UNITED NATIONS -- UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon joined world leaders Tuesday in immediately condemning the terrorist attack on a school in Pakistan, a "bloodcurdling" massacre that left at least 141 people dead.
Taliban gunmen stormed a military-run school in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar, killing scores of people -- more than 100 of them children -- before Pakistani officials declared a military operation to clear the school over.
"No cause can justify such brutality," Ban said before a meeting of the UN Security Council on cooperation between the UN and African Union. "No grievance can excuse such horror. It is an act of horror and rank cowardice to attack defenseless children while they learn. Schools must be safe and secure learning spaces. Getting an education is every child's right. Going to school should not have to be an act of bravery."
Ban said that mostly children were killed when armed men entered the Army Public School in Peshawar, and began shooting and setting off bombs strapped to their bodies. One person, an office assistant, was reportedly shot and burned alive.
The attack has been attributed to militants, according to media reports that said the Pakistani Taliban members declared the attack was launched in retaliation for a major Pakistani military campaign against them on Pakistan's border with Afghanistan.
President Barack Obama said, "By targeting students and teachers in this heinous attack, terrorists have once again shown their depravity."
And Secretary of State John Kerry, speaking in London, said: "The images are absolutely gut-wrenching . . . A house of learning turned into a house of unspeakable horror."
The UN Children's Fund's executive director, Tony Lake, said the "horrific, callous killing of more than 100 children today in Peshawar . . . must also summon us, all the more, to support the parents of Pakistan who wish for their children the best possible education -- and all those who are working to provide it."
With The AP