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Yousafzai lambastes ‘cowardly’ Taliban attack

The attack on a military-run school killed 130 people and injured 122 others.

Pakistani police and military take school children to the place of safety after six gunmen entered the school and held over 500 children hostage on 16 December 2014. Picture: NDTV @ndtv

JOHANNESBURG - The Taliban militants behind an attack that has killed 130 people are cowards, Pakistani Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai said on Tuesday.

A total of 122 people were injured with many of the deceased being children.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack on a military-run school in Peshawar, saying it's in retaliation to an ongoing military operation in the north of the country.

Two years ago, Malala was shot in the face by the Taliban for trying to go to school.

Malala's statement read, "I condemn the cowardly acts and stand united with the government and armed forces of Pakistan."

Last week, she dedicated her Nobel Peace Prize to the forgotten children of the world who yearn for education.

"I'm here to stand up for their rights, to raise their voice. It's not time to pity them but it's time to take action so that we see the last time a child is deprived of education."

Furthermore, Pakistani police have confirmed all the militants involved in a deadly attack on a school have been killed.

US President Barack Obama says the United States condemns the attack in the strongest possible terms and has sent his condolences to the victims' families.

At the same time, security analyst Peter Bergen says this attack is a response to the aggressive pressure the Pakistani government has been putting on the Taliban.

"It's a direct response to the military campaign the government has been engaged in."

The Department of International Relations in South Africa also condemned the killing in the strongest of terms.

Spokesperson Clayson Monyela said, "Targeting innocent children is the most horrible crime."

'HOSPITALS UNDER PRESSURE'

The Pakistani foreign ministry says hospitals are under severe pressure as medical staff work to treat as many of those injured in the attack as possible.

The foreign ministry's Tasneem Aslam said, "All hospitals are under pressure and an emergency has been declared."

Hours into the siege, three explosions were heard inside the military-run high school, and a Reuters journalist at the scene said he heard heavy gunfire.

Outside, as helicopters rumbled overhead, police struggled to hold back distraught parents who were trying to break past a security cordon and get into the school.

It was not clear whether some or all of the children were killed by gunmen, suicide bombs or in the ensuing battle with Pakistani security forces trying to gain control of the building.

Additional reporting by Reuters.