The victims of a deadly school attack in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar that claimed the lives of over 140 people -- mostly schoolchildren -- were honored in the Turkish capital on Monday on the fifth anniversary of the attack.
The memorial service was organized by the Pakistan Embassy in Ankara and the Kecioren District Municipality in Justice and Development (AK) Party 10th Anniversary Memorial Forest where a monument was built in 2015 in remembrance of the students and teachers who lost their lives during the attack.
Speaking during the service, Pakistan's Ambassador to Turkey Syrus Sajjad Qazi said Dec. 16 was "the darkest day" for Pakistan.
"On this day, we suffered an atrocity that we do not wish had ever been visited upon even our worst enemies.
"And in 1971, our country was torn asunder. And then, decades later on this day, we saw our own children butchered by heartless animals.  Can you imagine the pain and anguish of parents who sent their children to school in the morning and later that evening, receive their dead bodies butchered, cut up, shot, slaughtered?" Qazi said.
Thanking the Kecioren Municipality for its "symbolic gesture of friendship and brotherhood", Qazi said "those who have gone will never return but in such trying times, things that make your pain a little bit less is to have friends and brothers who are sharing this pain with you."
Kecioren Mayor Turgut Altinok said the Taliban was a "pawn of foreign powers" used to occupy Pakistan, like the PKK and Fetullah Terror Organization (FETO) in Turkey.
Stressing the fraternity between Turkey and Pakistan, Altinok said Turkey shares Pakistan's pain deep in heart.
The service continued in front of the monument, where participants left flowers.
Posters were placed around the premises to mark the day, with one reading: "Terrorism beyond religion and borders". Another honored the victims of the attack: "Their tales of exemplary courage and monumental bravery echoes in our resolve for a better Pakistan."
With photos of the "youngest soldiers" referring to the students of the army-run school killed in the attack, another poster read: "The only way to remember their sacrifices is to rise together to make Pakistan better."
On Dec. 16, 2014, six Taliban terrorists stormed Army Public School and killed nearly 150 people, including more than 130 schoolchildren.
The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) Khalifa Mansoor group had claimed responsibility for the attack. Mansoor was later killed in a U.S. drone attack in eastern Afghanistan in Oct. 2017.
Source: Anadolu Agency