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September 4, 2015

APS tragedy continues to haunt survivors


September 4, 2015

PESHAWAR: Two brothers who sustained injuries in the brutal attack by the militants on the Army Public School (APS) here on December 16, 2014 are still haunted by the tragic memory of the assault.
Shehzad Sadiq and Irfan Sadiq, sons of Subedar Major Sadiq Shah of the Frontier Corps, were seated in the auditorium of the APS Peshawar listening to the lecture on first-aid when it was stormed by four of the six attackers. The gunmen barged into the auditorium and fired indiscriminately from the rear at everyone in sight.
“I still suffer from sleeplessness. I have pain in my leg and sometimes have difficulty in walking,” Shehzad Sadiq said.
The 15-year old Shehzad Sadiq suffered two bullet injuries in his stomach and spent 22 days in the Combined Military Hospital, Peshawar.
He was in class 7 at the APS when it was attacked and is now studying in class 8 at the Military College, Serai Alamgir, near Jhelum.
“Eight students of APS got admission in the Military College, Serai Alamgir. Army chief General Raheel Sharif visited us at the CMH Peshawar and asked me where I will like to study. I gave my preference for the Military College and was admitted there after test and interview,” recalled Shehzad Sadiq.
He said the attackers barged into the auditorium by breaking the door and firing at the students from the back side. “I ran towards the front door of the auditorium and then to the dressing room. Some of those in room were dead or injured. The gunmen returned after a while and shot dead whoever was alive. One of our teachers Ms Saima, the army medics and students were fired at and killed. I was lucky to survive and escape,” Shehzad Sadiq said. He remembered the gunmen telling each other in Pashto to kill everyone who was alive. “At 12.15 pm the Army commandoes arrived and began shifting the injured to hospitals. I was taken to the Lady Reading Hospital where I underwent surgery before being shifted to the CMH,” he added.

Sadiq’s elder brother Irfan Sadiq, now 17 years old, also suffered two bullet injuries. “I was hit in the leg and the hip. I was under treatment for 15 days at the CMH. I feel pain in my leg when the weather is cold or when I walk too much. Otherwise, I am okay,” he said. He recalled sitting in the third row of the auditorium when the attackers launched the attack. “We first tried to hide between the chairs. I then ran towards the dressing room where I met my brother Shehzad. I was left stranded there while Shehzad managed to escape. We were hiding our faces among the dead and injured when the gunmen came back and fired at those they thought were alive,” Irfan Sadiq recalled.
He said their slain English teacher Ms Saima had been transferred to the APS only a month ago. “It is not easy to forget the way she and some of our class fellows were killed,” he remarked. Irfan Sadiq is still studying at the APS and is now in class 10. He said a basketball court, library and computer lab have been built at the site of the auditorium. He added that the new building of the auditorium is presently under construction at the school. He has plans to seek admission at the Military College, Serai Alamgir, and join his brother after qualifying his matriculation examination at the APS.
The day Shehzad Sadiq and Irfan Sadiq were injured in the APS attack, their younger brother Bilal Sadiq studying in class 1 was present in the junior section of the school. The terrorists couldn’t go to the junior section and thus the schoolchildren there weren’t harmed.
Shehzad Sadiq and Irfan Sadiq recently appeared before a medical board at the Police Hospital, Peshawar to see if they needed further treatment, possibly at the Aga Khan Hosputal, Karachi. Shehzad Sadiq is in greater need of treatment of his left leg. Both the brothers were among the APS students who were sent by the Army authorities to Saudi Arabia for Umra. Other students were sent to the US, Oman, China and Tajikistan for sight-seeing. All these visits were intended to provide spiritual and recreational healing to students who survived the most brutal attack against schoolchildren anywhere in the world.
Still haunted by the unforgettable memory of the APS tragedy, Shehzad Sadiq and Irfan Sadiq are keen to pursue their studies even though it isn’t easy for their soldier father to pay for the education of his three sons and four daughters.

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