At least 126 people, including more than 100 children, have died and 122 have been wounded after a Taliban attack on a school in the Pakistani city of Peshawar today.
Hundreds of students at the Army Public School were taken hostage earlier today, with the Taliban – which is seeking to topple the government to create a strict Islamic state - claiming responsibility.
"We selected the army's school for the attack because the government is targeting our families and females," said Taliban spokesman Muhammad Umar Khorasani. "We want them to feel the pain."
Bahramand Khan, director of information for the regional Chief Minister's Secretariat, confirmed the number of casualties, although added “it may rise”.
More than 100 of the dead were schoolchildren, Reuters is reporting. A local hospital said the dead and wounded it had seen were aged between 10 and 20 years old.
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.
The Pakistani army is now seeking to rescue children still trapped inside, and has claimed the death of five militants. At least six armed men are reported to have entered the school.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is travelling 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.
"This is my loss. This is the nation's loss. I am leaving for Peshawar now and I will supervise this operation myself."
It follows yesterday's hostage situation in Australia, where a lone gunman took the Lindt cafe in Sydney. After several hours, the situation ended with the death of three people, including the perpetrator Man Haron Monis.