KARACHI: Watched by their proud parents and teachers, boys and girls in their uniforms were all smiles as they one by one walked to the rostrum to receive their prizes from the principal of the school when it came under a grenade and gun attack on Saturday morning.
It was the annual day of the Nation Secondary School, housed in a two-story building constructed on a 180-square-yard plot with bare cement blocks in the predominantly Pakhtun locality called Ittehad Town.
The school’s name was written in Urdu on its outer wall over the Quaid-i-Azam’s three basic principles: unity, faith, discipline.
In a corner, Allama Iqbal’s famous couplet was written: ‘Zindagi ho meri parwanay ki soorat ya rub/ Ilm ki shama se ho mujh ko muhabbat ya rub.’
“Everything was going well. All the children were happy, as were their parents.
The kids were clapping when a blast was heard,” said Mohammad Hashim, 35, who had come there with his eight-year-old daughter Azra who had topped in grade-II.
He said pieces of bricks hit him and his daughter and caused minor injuries to them.
“We heard gunshots but did not know what had happened as all of us were trying to save our lives. Later, someone told me the school principal had been killed.”
Around 200 children were admitted to the school, which offered teaching from kindergarten to 10th grade with classes accommodated in 11 rooms made on the ground and first floors.
Many of the schoolchildren were accompanied by their parents to attend the annual function, in which trophies and certificates were to be awarded to students.
The school administration had organised the event in a fairly large classroom where large wooden benches — roughly polished — were there to accommodate children.
Most students attending the ceremony had passed their examination with flying colours.
The school had not invited every student because of limited space.
The classrooms’ walls were as bare and without plaster as the rest of the building.
A couple of dozens of trophies made of hard plastic and painted with golden colour on the main body and black on the bottom were seen kept on the floor of the room.
The floor was strewn with piles of pink files containing results of students’ examinations.
Some of the white plastic chairs were upended while stains of blood on some chairs gave bleak contrast with the whiteness of chairs.
Most of the wounded children were minor girls.
Some of whom had left their shoes there while some children books were also seen in a corner of a room.