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Pakistan Children Return to School After Taliban Massacre

Pakistani students go to their school near Army Public School targeted by Taliban militants, in Peshawar, Pakistan, Monday, Jan. 12, 2015.
Pakistani students go to their school near Army Public School targeted by Taliban militants, in Peshawar, Pakistan, Monday, Jan. 12, 2015.

Schools across Pakistan re-opened Monday, almost a month after Taliban militants attacked and massacred 134 children and 16 staff members at a school in Peshawar.

Pakistan's military chief, General Raheel Sharif, greeted the returning students Monday at the Army Public School, the site of the December 16 massacre.

Pakistan officials have ordered schools throughout the country to increase their security. The Army Public School built higher walls and installed barbed wire and security cameras around the facility to discourage future attacks.

"We are not afraid of them (militants), we are not afraid of their attacks and we will go to school and get an education, which is our fundamental right," said one student.

"I am a second year student at the APS (Army Public School). My mother was killed in the incident (the Taliban school attack), but at the moment I am not scared [to go back] and I will get an education," said another.

Baluchistan, Pakistan
Baluchistan, Pakistan

Authorities did not allow some schools to open Monday because of inadequate security measures.

Pakistan has strengthened its offensive against the Taliban since the Peshawar attack with a set of fresh administrative and legislative measures, including the reinstatement of the death penalty and a new law allowing the creation of military courts to swiftly try civilian terror suspects.

Despite the increased security, one 16-year-old student at the Army Public School told the French news agency that "my heart does not want to attend school."

Rescue workers and relatives of some of the victims of the December attack said there were headless corpses among the many bodies of children brought to hospitals.

Witnesses said the attackers went from classroom to classroom, methodically killing everyone they could reach.

The Pakistan Taliban said it carried out the attack in retaliation for the Pakistani army's offensive against the insurgents.

Pakistan has become used to almost daily attacks by the Taliban, but the massacre of so many children deeply shocked the nation, prompting criticism that the government was not doing enough to curb the insurgency.

The chief of Pakistan's spy agency, ISI, Lt. General Rizwan Akhtar met with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani Sunday. A statement from the president's office said the men discussed ways to strengthen joint efforts both countries can make in the fight against terrorism.

In another development, Pakistani officials say gunmen attacked a security outpost in southwestern Baluchistan province Monday, killing seven paramilitary soldiers. There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

The province borders Afghanistan and has been in the grip of militant, separatist and sectarian attacks over the past few years.

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