Unidentified armed men on a motorcycle opened fire on a school van in Swat’s Char Bagh area on Monday, killing the driver and injuring a child, according to police.
Swat District Police Officer (DPO) Zahid Marwat, while confirming the attack, told Dawn.com that the incident occurred earlier today outside the Knowledge City School in the Guli Bagh locality.
He said there were 15 students inside the vehicle at the time of the attack.
The officer told Dawn.com that the body and injured student have been moved to the Khwazakhela Hospital, while the child — a third grader seated in the passenger seat of the van — was now out of danger.
“A contingent of the police have reached the attack site and cordoned it off. A search operation is also underway,” he said, adding that so far no one has been arrested.
In a statement later, Marwat said that the target of today’s incident was the driver of the school van and not the children.
The attack comes a day after the 10th anniversary of the shooting of Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) when she was a schoolgirl.
So far, no one has claimed responsibility for Monday’s attack.
Meanwhile, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mahmood Khan has taken notice of the attack and instructed the inspector-general of the province to prepare an investigation report.
He extended condolences to the bereaved family and prayed for the speedy recovery of the injured.
In a tweet, MNA Mohsin Dawar said that the attack should serve as a “wake-up call for the state that appears to be losing its writ in Swat once again”.
“The people of Swat have been protesting against terrorism but their voices are being ignored. Pashtuns are being thrown to the wolves again,” the lawmaker added.
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan also condemned the attack in a statement shared on Twitter. “Swat’s residents are right to hold the security forces responsible for failing to enforce the writ of the state.
“It was callous and short-sighted to have downplayed the threat from militants given residents’ growing protests and calls for security,” it said, adding that the perpetrators should be promptly brought to the book and the state should stop ceding space to extremists.
Hundreds take to the streets
After the incident was reported, hundreds of students and teachers of private schools in Swat took to the streets against terrorist activities in the region.
Protesters held banners and placards bearing messages of peace as they gathered at Nishat Chowk in Mingora. They also chanted slogans demanding peace in Swat and Malakand Division.
The protesters said the law and order situation in Swat had been deteriorating for the past three months. “We know who is behind the current drama. We know why the security forces are helpless against a few so-called terrorists,” a demonstrator said.
Another protester, Zafar Shilami, said that terrorists were enemies of books, students and teachers. “But they should remember that the residents of Swat, including teachers and students, will never be subdued or scared,” he vowed.
The protesters further said that it was the state’s responsibility to ensure the security of every citizen. “However, if the state failed, we would fight a war for peace,” activist Ahmed Shah asserted.
Separately, all the teachers in Swat have vowed to initiate a campaign aimed at spreading awareness among students about the injustice and failure of the security forces. They said that all the teachers and students of Swat would now be part of every protest called by the civil society members.
Meanwhile, the Swat Private Schools Association has decided to keep schools in the district closed on Tuesday in solidarity with the victims of today’s attack.
With additional input from AFP