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November 18, 2015

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APS survivors tell France: ‘You are not alone’

PESHAWAR: The survivors of the Army Public School terror attack have expressed solidarity with the victims of the Paris attacks, describing those responsible as “animals” who had “nothing to do with Islam”.
France witnessed its worst terror attacks on Friday night, with shootings and suicide bombings on bars, restaurants and a sports stadium that killed 129, mostly young people.
At a monthly gathering for survivors of the school attack in Peshawar, Syed Shah, the father of one of the victims, said that when he saw the news from Paris broadcast on local TV “our whole family cried for hours”.
“It took us back,” he said. “We feel the pain of the French better than anyone because we know it.”Another student shouted in anger against the “animals” who killed her friends in Peshawar and repeated it had “nothing to do with Islam” — a sentiment expressed repeatedly by parents at the meeting in reference to the Paris attacks.
The solidarity with France over Friday’s attacks appears uniform across Pakistan.Since Friday, comments by religious and political leaders, the government and on social networks have roundly condemned the Paris terror attacks.
Peshawar student Azam Mehmood said he found it “hard to believe” that such violence could strike in the heart of Paris, capital of what he — like many Pakistanis — believed to be a “highly developed, peaceful and secure country”.
Others told of the Taliban attack at the APS in stories closely mirroring the accounts of Paris survivors.Chemistry teacher Andalib Aftab lost her 16-year-old son as well as many students in the Peshawar attack. She said tearfully during the meeting that she wants to “tell the French they are not alone”.
On December 16, 2014, Taliban gunmen martyred 150 people, more than 130 of them children aged between nine and 19, at the Army Public School (APS) in Peshawar in an assault that shocked and outraged the country which is already scarred

by nearly a decade of extremist attacks.


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