Bombing schools

by | Jan 20, 2011

Most of us, I think, have an utterly skewed view of the impact of terrorism – weighted heavily towards (very rare) attacks on Western cities or the murder of high-profile figures, such as Salman Taseer, the governor of Punjab.  In reality, however, it is the poor and marginalised, in countries like Pakistan, who bear the brunt of terrorist violence.

As a corrective – and to ruin your morning – consider this attack on a school, using the novel tactic of a horse-drawn cart-bomb:

A bypasser was killed and 17 persons, including six boys and three girl students, were injured in a remote-controlled bomb explosion outside a private school here on Wednesday.

A bomb disposal unit official, Malik Shafqat, said a device containg five kilogrammes of explosives had been planted in a horse-drawn cart near the graveyard outside the Shah Faisal Public School in Nauthia Jadeed.

The device exploded when the students had just started reaching the school in the morning. The explosion was so loud that it was heard all over the city. The cart-owner was arrested and was being interrogated, a senior police official said.

Rescue teams and volunteers rushed to the spot soon after the explosion and the injured were rushed to the Lady Reading Hospital. Doctors said one body and 17 injured people had been brought to the hospital. They said the condition of two injured was serious.

The slain person was identified as Umar Aziz, son of Abdul Aziz, resident of Bara Gate. He was a bypasser caught in the explosion.

The injured included Jamshed Khan, Taimur Khan, Yousaf Khan, Ishaq Khan, Rutba, Remeen, Sidra Ishaq, Iqra Ishaq, Badshah Khan, Tahira, Nigah, Rizwanullah, Naveed, Safeena Riyaz, Sana, Shahzeb and Abdur Rahman.

Spend a second, at least, reading those names, because they’ll almost certainly never be seen in print again. These victims of terrorism are almost completely anonymous, and the families of the deceased receive little or no support, neither do the injured who lose their livelihoods.

This – by the way – is part of a systematic campaign to target Peshawar’s schools. There have been three other attacks in just the past month. Imagine the reaction if that were to happen in Birmingham, UK, or Birmingham, Alabama.


  • David Steven is a senior fellow at New York University, where he founded the Global Partnership to End Violence against Children and the Pathfinders for Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies, a multi-stakeholder partnership to deliver the SDG targets for preventing all forms of violence, strengthening governance, and promoting justice and inclusion. He was lead author for the ministerial Task Force on Justice for All and senior external adviser for the UN-World Bank flagship study on prevention, Pathways for Peace. He is a former senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and co-author of The Risk Pivot: Great Powers, International Security, and the Energy Revolution (Brookings Institution Press, 2014). In 2001, he helped develop and launch the UK’s network of climate diplomats. David lives in and works from Pisa, Italy.

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