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Four men involved in massacring of more than 130 children are hanged

Members of the Pakistani army walk among the ruins of the Peshawar school
Members of the Pakistani army walk among the ruins of the Peshawar school

Pakistan Wednesday executed four men linked to a Taliban massacre in which more than 130 schoolchildren were killed, with parents of victims saying the convicts deserved "no forgiveness" as the anniversary of the attack approached.

The executions, carried out by hanging Wednesday morning at a prison in the city of Kohat, officials said, were the first in connection with the December 16 attack on an army-run school in the northwestern city of Peshawar.

Survivors of the assault, in which the majority of the more than 150 victims were children, said they were "happy" to hear of the executions, with one father saying the hangings should have been carried out in public squares rather than behind prison doors.

A Kohat police official named the militants as Maulvi Abdus Salam, Hazrat Ali, Mujeebur Rehman and Sabeel, alias Yahya.

The army on Monday issued a so-called black warrant confirming the executions were imminent. What role they played in the massacre has not been confirmed.

The gunmen who carried out the massacre were all reported killed by security forces during the attack.

The attack was Pakistan's deadliest, and shocked and outraged a country already scarred by nearly a decade of extremism.

"The rest should be caught too, no one should be spared," survivor Waheed Anjum, 18, told AFP.

Anjum, who was 17 at the time of the attack, was struck by three bullets, one in each arm and one in his chest.

"They shouldn't have been hanged from prisons, they should have been hanged from squares," his father Momin Khan Khattak added.

"There is no forgiveness in our hearts after what they did to our children."

Other parents said the executions would act as a deterrent against future extremist attacks.

"The parents of the schoolchildren have long been demanding that the terrorists be severely punished, and today we are satisfied our demands have been met," Ajoon Khan, who lost his only son in the attack, told AFP.

"Had the government hanged all the terrorists before, the Peshawar school attack would never have happened," he said, adding that he hoped others involved in the massacre would meet the same fate.

"The hangings won't bring back my son, but now other people's sons will be kept safer," said father Tufail Ahmed Khan, who lost one son in the attack while another was wounded.

The attack prompted a nation-wide crackdown on extremism, with the establishment of military courts and the resumption of capital punishment after a six-year moratorium.

In August, after a trial that took place behind closed doors, the army announced that six militants linked to the assault would be executed, while a seventh was handed a life sentence.

The four executed Wednesday were the first to be hanged after convictions in military courts.

Earlier this month Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif directed the president to reject their appeals against the sentences, saying they deserved "no mercy".

An official at the prison said the men who were hanged on Wednesday had held a final meeting with their families on Tuesday night, and a police official said their bodies would be handed over to relatives.

- AFP