A police guard deployed at the Sangota Convent School in Mingora tehsil of Swat district on Tuesday shot dead a young girl and injured six others, including a teacher and girl students, when they were boarding a van outside the school, sources said.
Swat District Police Officer (DPO) Shafiullah Gandapur told media that the constable, identified as Alam Khan, was arrested immediately after the attack and a case had been registered against him.
“A special team has been formed to investigate the matter. I assure everyone that the culprit will be punished,” he said.
Gandapur said the accused hailed from the Salampur area and was suspended from the police force twice. Khan was reinstated in the police department last year and was deployed outside the school for security three months back.
Sangota Convent School was built in 1962 and is administered by the Rawalpindi Catholic Archdiocese Education Board.
Reverend Qaiser Shahbaz, pastor of the Saint Luke’s Church in Swat told Kross Konnection, that all victims of the attack were Muslims.
“We are all very sad over the loss of a precious life and injuries to other girl students. The police is claiming that the assailant is mentally unwell but that raises a serious question on the police’s own evaluation process for deployment. Why was such a man assigned protection duty at a school in the first place?” he asked.
One of the injured girls, who is currently being treated at the hospital, told a media outlet that the suspect opened indiscriminate fire on their van as soon as it exited the school gate.
“All the schoolchildren got scared and started shouting after which people started gathering,” she added.
CHURCH LEADERS SLAM ATTACK
Church leaders and community members condemned the senseless attack on little school girls and called for adequate security deployment at church-run educational institutions.
“Tonight we grieve deeply for the profound loss to the families, community and school in the Swat District where an assailant opened fire on young school girls. May God, receive this night, our tears and our prayers. Remembering particularly the family of Roma, the little girl who is no more. What a loss!,” said Church of Pakistan’s President Bishop Azad Marshall in a tweet.
“We strongly urge government leaders and those in positions of influence across our nation to speak out against this autrocity [sic] and recognise the need to safeguard all those who are vulnerable to hate, marginalization and persecution. In your mercy Lord, hear our prayer and let our cry come unto thee,” he added.
Bishop of Peshawar Diocese of the Church of Pakistan, Humphrey Sarfaraz Peters also condemned the incident and called for justice for the victim families.
“All missionary-run institutions in Pakistan should observe a one-minute silence during morning assemblies to show solidarity with the aggrieved families,” he told Kross Konnection.
The church leader also questioned the police’s reported claim that the assailant was suffering from mental illness.
“A proper inquiry should be ensured to ascertain the reason for the attack,” he added.
Earlier, a driver of a school van was killed and two students were injured when their vehicle came under attack by unidentified gunmen in the village of Guli Bagh within Swat district of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province.
Officials said the assailants were waiting on a motorcycle and attacked the van as it passed. They fled unchallenged soon after the attack.
District officials claimed that the driver was targeted in the attack.