Pakistan hangs 4 men linked to Peshawar school shooting

The parents and siblings of slain Pakistani student Asfand Khan, who was killed during an attack by militants at an army public school last year, praying alongside his photo at their residence in Peshawar yesterday. The attack was Pakistan's deadlies
The parents and siblings of slain Pakistani student Asfand Khan, who was killed during an attack by militants at an army public school last year, praying alongside his photo at their residence in Peshawar yesterday. The attack was Pakistan's deadliest, and shocked a country already scarred by nearly a decade of extremism.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

PESHAWAR (Pakistan) • Pakistan executed four men yesterday for involvement in the massacre of 134 children at an army-run school in the north-western city of Peshawar last year, media and security sources said.

The hangings were the first executions of civilians convicted by Pakistan's military courts, which were set up after the Dec 16 massacre through a constitutional amendment. Survivors of the assault said they were "happy" to hear of the executions, with one father saying the hangings should have been carried out in public squares rather than behind prison doors.

A Kohat police official named the militants as Maulvi Abdus Salam, Hazrat Ali, Mujeebur Rehman and Sabeel, alias Yahya. All were identified as members of the Toheedwal Jihad Group, a previously unheard of faction of the Pakistani Taleban.

What role they played in the massacre has not been confirmed. The gunmen who carried out the massacre were all reportedly killed by security forces during the attack.

The attack was Pakistan's deadliest, and shocked and outraged a country already scarred by nearly a decade of extremism.

"The rest should be caught too, no one should be spared," said Mr Waheed Anjum, 18, who is a survivor. Mr Anjum, who was 17 at the time of the attack, was struck by three bullets, one in each arm and one in his chest.

"They shouldn't have been hanged from prisons, they should have been hanged from squares," his father, Mr Momin Khan Khattak, added. "There is no forgiveness in our hearts after what they did to our children."

Other parents said the executions would act as a deterrent against future extremist attacks. "The parents of the schoolchildren have long been demanding that the terrorists be severely punished, and today we are satisfied our demands have been met," Mr Ajoon Khan, who lost his only son in the attack, said.

"The hangings won't bring back my son, but now other people's sons will be kept safer," said Mr Tufail Ahmed Khan, who lost one son in the attack, while another was wounded.

The attack prompted a nationwide crackdown on extremism, with the establishment of military courts and the resumption of capital punishment after a six-year moratorium. In August, after a trial that took place behind closed doors, the army announced that six militants linked to the assault would be executed, while a seventh was handed a life sentence.

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif directed the president to reject their appeals against the sentences, saying they deserved "no mercy".

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 03, 2015, with the headline 'Pakistan hangs 4 men linked to Peshawar school shooting'. Print Edition | Subscribe