At least 126, most of them children, slaughtered as Taliban storm Pakistan school

Posted at 7:08 AM, Dec 16, 2014
and last updated 2014-12-16 07:09:32-05

(CNN) — The Pakistan Taliban have long conducted an insurgency against the Pakistani government and have claimed a number of violent attacks.

Earlier this year, the government suspended peace talks with the group, formally known as Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan, or TTP.

And for the past few months, Pakistan’s military has been conducting a ground offensive aimed at clearing out militants — including those affiliated with the TTP — in the loosely governed tribal areas of northwestern Pakistan. The campaign has displaced tens of thousands of people.

In a telephone call to CNN, a spokesman for the TTP, who identified himself as Mohammed Khurrassani, said that Tuesday’s attack on a Peshawar school was revenge for the killing of hundreds of innocent tribesmen during repeated army operations.

The restive provinces of South Waziristan, North Waziristan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, along the mountainous border with Afghanistan, have long been a stronghold for the Pakistan Taliban and other militant groups.

The TTP spokesman said the military operations there had forced the group to take what he called an “extreme step.”

The tentative peace talks between the government and the Pakistan Taliban came to a halt after the group admitted involvement in two brazen attacks on or near Pakistan’s largest airport in the southern port city of Karachi in June.

“Their primary target is the Pakistani state and its military,” Raza Rumi of the Jinnah Institute, a Pakistani think tank, said of the TTP after the Karachi attack.

“It resents the fact that (Pakistan) has an alliance with the West, and it wants Sharia to be imposed in Pakistan.”