12/02/2015, 00.00
PAKISTAN
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Pakistan hangs four terrorists charged with massacre at Peshawar military school

They are the first to be executed in connection with the 16 December 2014 massacre, which killed about 150 people, including students and teachers. Last night they met their families for the last time. Applause from victims’ relatives, amid demands all those responsible be charged. A father says: "There is no room for forgiveness."

Peshawar (AsiaNews / Agencies) – Pakistan this morning hung four terrorists linked to the massacre, which took place last December, a military school in Peshawar, capital of the northern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The men had been sentenced to death by a military court and are the first to be executed following the massacre, which killed nearly 150 people, including students and teachers.

In March, the Pakistani government canceled the moratorium on the death penalty in all cases in which the death sentence was imposed, after resuming executions for crimes related to terrorism. The decision to resume executions came in the aftermath of the Taliban attack on the military school in Peshawar; the commandos had orders to shoot and cause the greatest number of victims.

The hangings come exactly two weeks before the first anniversary of the attack, which caused deep shock and terror throughout the nation. The massacre triggered a rapid government response, which launched a vast military operation against the militants in the following weeks.  The government also created special military tribunals to try suspects and resume executions after a six-year moratorium.

In recent days, the army chief, General Raheel Sharif, signed the death sentence of the four terrorists (Maulvi Abdus Salam, Hazrat Ali, Mujeebur Rehman and Sabeel). The four were executed at dawn in a prison in the northwestern town of Kohat. The night before they were able to meet, their families for the last time for a final farewell.

On December 16, 2014 a commando affiliated with Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) attacked a military school in Peshawar, killing 148 people, including 132 children between 7 and 14 years of age. The Taliban said the attack was revenge for a Pakistani army offensive in the north-west, along the border with Afghanistan, historical strongholds of Islamists, which killed more than 1,200 militants.

The massacre was strongly condemned by the whole society, by leaders of the Catholic Church of Pakistan –  by both the bishop of Islamabad  and the archbishop of Karachi- as well as by the international community.

Even today the attack has left a deep wound, and many, especially among family members, are still demanding revenge rather than justice. A group of survivors of the massacre said they were "happy" having heard the news of the executions.

However some- the parent and a student, now 18 years old, who escaped death after receiving being shot three times - says the hangings should not be carried out in prison, but "in a public square." "There is no room for forgiveness in our hearts - adds the father of a student - after what they did to our children."

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