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In Peshawar attack, gunmen played horrific mind games with students

Taliban gunmen who stormed a school in northwest Pakistan toyed with captive students by suggesting some could be let go before lining them up and gunning them down in front of their classmates, according to a new account by survivors.

Militants rampaged through an army-run school in Peshawar and killed at least 144 people on Tuesday, almost all of them children.

Pakistan is in mourning over the attack, the bloodiest in the nation’s history, which brought international condemnation and promises of a stern crackdown by political and military leaders.

Previous accounts by witnesses have indicated a pattern of indiscriminate firing on students with those fortunate enough to survive playing dead while the attackers moved on.

But Shahnawaz Khan, a 14-year-old who was being treated in a Peshawar hospital for two bullet wounds to his shoulder, said the attackers also engaged in sadistic games.

He said he and his class were in the middle of an English grammar lecture when they heard gunshots, though their teacher said it was a first-aid class and the sound could be coming from a demonstration.

“But after a while the sounds of gunshots grew louder and we were hearing screams of students,” said Khan, the son of a former local government official.

“Our teacher opened the door and suddenly rushed back to the room and shouted ‘get under the benches’, he was trying to lock the door when someone pushed it from outside and he fell to the ground. Two men wearing army-like uniforms carrying AK-47s barged into the room and told us not to make any noise and do as they say.”

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