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Children Of Soldiers: Pakistani Taliban's Brutal Justification Attempt For School Attack

A man in Karachi lights candles to mourn the victims from the Army Public School in Peshawar, Pakistan, which was attacked by Taliban gunmen on December 16.

There was nothing random about the Pakistani Taliban's targeting of a Peshawar army school for an attack.

Part of a network of 128 schools that caters to military families and upper-middle-class Pakistanis, the campus was attacked as revenge for Islamabad's ongoing operations in North Waziristan, several Taliban spokesmen have said.

"We selected the army's school for the attack because the government is targeting our families and females," Pakistani Taliban spokesman Muhammad Umar Khorasani said, according to the Reuters news agency. "We want them to feel the pain."

Yar Wazir, a Taliban commander, also tried to justify the attacks in an interview with the Daily Beast, claiming "the parents of the army school are army soldiers."

Pakistan's security forces began their joint military offensive, named "Operation Zarb-e-Azb," in North Waziristan following a Taliban attack on Karachi's main airport in June. The Pakistani military says it has killed more than 1,100 Islamist militants there since.

LIVE BLOG: Pakistan School Attack As It Happened

Pakistani Army schools are thought to offer better services than standard public schools, which are frequently overcrowded and understaffed.

The schools are also generally protected by security, but several witnesses reported seeing the militants scaling a fence before storming the compound, located in northwestern Peshawar.

The Taliban's attempts to use the school's military ties as a defense for the attack, which killed at least 141 people -- almost all of them children -- has been met largely with scorn.

Malala Yousafzai, the Nobel-Prize-winning 17-year-old who was shot in the head by Taliban militants in 2012, called the attack a "senseless and cold-blooded act of terror."

"Those were my kids," Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said before calling for a three-day period of national mourning.

He said the attacks had strengthened his resolve to defeat the Taliban.

-- Glenn Kates

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