PESHAWAR, Pakistan - Militants in Pakistan said their attack on a school in Peshawar on Tuesday was vengeance for an army offensive on Taleban insurgents.
The brutal strike has left at least 130 people dead, most of them children from the army-run public school.
Eyewitness accounts from survivors tell of their close brush with death:
"They burned our madam"
An unnamed student told NDTV:
"As soon as we entered the hall, firing started behind us in the hall. Our teacher said close the doors. We closed the doors and suddenly they entered, breaking the doors…
"As soon as we hid under tables, they fired bullets at our legs and our heads and then they burned our madam. They burned our madam. The firing continued but we didn't move because whoever moved got shot at."
"I saw death so close"
Shahrukh Khan, 16, described how he played dead after being shot in both legs:
"I saw a pair of big black boots coming towards me, this guy was probably hunting for students hiding beneath the benches.
"Someone screamed at us to get down and hide below the desks. Then one of them shouted: 'There are so many children beneath the benches, go and get them'.
"I folded my tie and pushed it into my mouth so that I wouldn't scream. The man with big boots kept on looking for students and pumping bullets into their bodies. I lay as still as I could and closed my eyes, waiting to get shot again.
"My body was shivering. I saw death so close and I will never forget the black boots approaching me - I felt as though it was death that was approaching me."
"Army doctor was teaching us about first aid"
A student told Pakistan's Dunya Television:
"An army doctor was visiting us teaching us about first aid when attackers came from behind our school and started firing. Our teachers locked the door and we ducked on the floor, but they (militants) broke down the door. Initially they fired in the air and later started killing the students, but left the hall suddenly.
"The attackers had long beards, wore shalwar kameez (traditional baggy clothes) and spoke Arabic."
"Some were shot three times, some four times"
Soldiers came to the rescue during a lull in the firing, a student told the Telegraph:
"When we were coming out of the class we saw dead bodies of our friends lying in the corridors. They were bleeding. Some were shot three times, some four times. The men entered the rooms one by one and started indiscriminate firing at the staff and students."
"We thought it must be the children playing some game"
Mudassir Awan, a worker at the school, said he had seen six people scaling its walls.
"We thought it must be the children playing some game," he told Reuters. "But then we saw a lot of firearms with them."
"Walking class-to-class and opening fire on children"
Mudassar Abbas, a physics laboratory assistant at the school, said some students were celebrating at a party when the attack began.
"I saw six or seven people walking class-to-class and opening fire on children."
Sources: Reuters, Agence France-Presse, NDTV, Telegraph, BBC