At least 141 people have been killed and 122 injured in an attack by Taliban militants on a Pakistani high school. 132 of the dead were schoolchildren, chief army spokesman General Asim Bajwa said.
Hundreds of students and teachers were taken hostage in the bloodiest insurgent attack in the country in several years.
The raid on the school lasted for more than eight hours before the gunmen were killed.
An unnamed source told Reuters that nine insurgents were killed while other sources reported six attackers, but noted they were all dead.
The Pakistani military said special forces had rescued more than a dozen staff and students during the assault.
“The combat operation is over, the security personnel are carrying out a clearance operation and hopefully they will clear the building in a while,” police official Abdullah Khan said.
“Dead bodies of six terrorists have been found in the building.”
General Bajwa said on Twitter that the operation was “closing up” but explosive devices planted in school buildings by the militants were slowing clearance efforts.
The Taliban said they sent in six gunmen with suicide vests to attack the military run school.
Outside the school, helicopters had been hovering overhead and ambulances ferried wounded children to hospital.
The school on Peshawar’s Warsak Road is part of the Army Public Schools and Colleges System, which runs 146 schools nationwide for the children of military personnel and civilians. Its students range in age from 10 to 18.
The schools educate the children of both officers and non-commissioned soldiers and army wives often teach there.
Disturbing reports have emerged of how the attack unfolded, according to Pakistani journalist Wajahat Khan, who is based in Islamabad.
“It started around home time, when most of the parents were about to receive the kids and school was about to get done,” he told ABC News24.
“From what we know from military sources on the ground … [the] assailants, all equipped with suicide jackets and all wearing local paramilitary and police uniforms, essentially walked into the school and started picking off kids, classroom by classroom.”
Prime minister Nawaz Sharif condemned the attack and said he was on his way to Peshawar.
“I can’t stay back in Islamabad. This is a national tragedy unleashed by savages. These were my kids,” he said in a statement.