NEW DELHI (AFP) – Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi strongly condemned a “cowardly” attack by Taleban militants Tuesday on an army-run school in neighbouring Pakistan that killed at least 130 people – most of them children.
Modi branded the attack in the northwestern city of Peshawar “a senseless act of unspeakable brutality” and said India shares rival Pakistan’s pain.
“Strongly condemn the cowardly terrorist attack at a school in Peshawar,” Modi tweeted.
“It is a senseless act of unspeakable brutality that has claimed lives of the most innocent of human beings – young children in their school.”
“My heart goes out to everyone who lost their loved ones today. We share their pain & offer our deepest condolences.”
Home Minister Rajnath Singh earlier said the attack, one of the bloodiest in Pakistan in recent years, exposed the “real face of terrorism”.
“I strongly condemn the terrorist attack on a school at Peshawar,” he tweeted.
“This dastardly & inhuman attack exposes the real face of terrorism. My heart goes out to the families of those children who got killed by the terrorists in Peshawar.”
Witnesses described how gunmen went from classroom to classroom, shooting children, after a huge blast shook the Army Public School.
The Tehreek-e-Taleban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for the attack as retaliation for a major military offensive in the region, saying militants had been ordered to shoot older students.
India has repeatedly urged Pakistan to rein in militant groups operating on its soil.
India and Pakistan have fought three wars since independence in 1947, and deadly attacks on Mumbai by Pakistan-based militants dealt a blow to tentative peace talks in 2008.
Washington has also pressed Islamabad to wipe out sanctuaries in North Waziristan, which militants have used to launch attacks on NATO forces in Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, Germany and France also condemned the “cruel cowardice” of the Taleban attack.
French President Francois Hollande said, “No words can express the ignominy of such an attack against children in their school.”
Germany Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, on the other hand, said, “The hostage-taking and murder of children exceeds in its cruel cowardice all that Pakistan, stricken by years of terror and violence, has known before.
“We mourn with the people of Pakistan the victims of this bloody terrorist attack. Our hearts go out to the families of the victims. For the many injured we wish speedy recoveries.”