At least 145 people, more than 100 of them children and teenagers, are dead in a massacre today after nine Taliban gunmen rampaged through a Pakistani public military school in what's being called the worst such attack in years. The chaotic scene in Peshawar began early today with militants, some of whom reportedly wore suicide vests, storming the school at 10am local time, taking dozens of hostages and shooting at random, reports the AP. Army commandos quickly responded and began trading fire with the gunmen, who, according to local media, initially gained access by scaling a rear wall. All were ultimately killed after an eight-hour battle, during which hostages were reportedly held in the school's auditorium. The school's 2,500 students range from ages 4 to 16.
"My son was in uniform in the morning. He is in a casket now," wailed one parent collecting the body of his 14-year-old. "My son was my dream. My dream has been killed." "We selected the army's school for the attack because the government is targeting our families and females," said a Taliban spokesman, as per Sky News. "We want them to feel our pain." Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif quickly headed to Peshawar, reports the New York Times, where three days of mourning have been declared. The slaughter comes on the heels of the Nobel Peace Prize for 17-year-old activist Malala Yousafzai—herself the victim of a Taliban attack—and she reacted swiftly, saying that "I am heartbroken by this senseless and cold blooded act of terror," and that "I, along with millions of others around the world, mourn these children, my brothers and sisters—but we will never be defeated."