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Islamabad, Pakistan (CNN) — “‘God is great,'” the Taliban militants exclaimed, as they roared through the hallways of a school in Peshawar, Pakistan.
Then, 14-year-old student Ahmed Faraz recalled, one of them changed the narrative.

” ‘A lot of the children are under the benches,’ ” a Pakistani Taliban said, according to Ahmed. ” ‘Kill them.’ ”

By the time the hours-long siege at Army Public School and Degree College ended early Tuesday evening, at least 141 people — 132 children plus nine school staff members — were dead, military spokesman Gen. Asim Bajwa said.

More than 100 were injured, many with gunshot wounds, according to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province Information Minister Mushtaq Ghani.

Pakistani troops responded, fending off gunfire and improvised explosive devices planted by terrorists as they went through the compound, building by building, room by room.

By 4 p.m., they had managed to confine the attackers to four buildings, and a few hours later, Peshawar police Chief Mohammad Aijaz Khan said that all of them were dead.

Still, the ordeal wasn’t over.

Pakistani authorities continued clearing the school in Peshawar, about 120 kilometers (75 miles) from the country’s capital, Islamabad, wary of planted explosives and other potential threats.

In a tweet, military spokesman Gen. Asim Bajwa called the attack a “ghastly act of cowardice in killing innocents” that, in his view, proves that the Taliban are “not only enemies of (Pakistan) but enemies of humanity.”

“They have hit at the heart of the nation,” Bajwa said. “But … they can’t in any way diminish the will of this great nation.”

On a typical day, the Army Public School and Degree College is home to up to 1,000 students, most of them sons and daughters of army personnel from around Peshawar. The boys and girls attend classes in different buildings on the compound.

How many of them will go home to their families alive remained in question Tuesday night, as Pakistani troops went room by room.

The Pakistani military had said that most students and teachers managed to evacuate the complex before being targeted or taken by the Taliban.

But many could not.

Students said gunmen walked through where students in grades 8, 9 and 10 have classes and began firing randomly, said Dr. Aamir Bilal of Peshawar’s Lady Reading Hospital.

Seventh-grader Mohammad Bilal said he was sitting outside his classroom taking a math test when the gunfire erupted.

“They were making exclamations of ‘God is great.’ Then one of them proclaimed that ‘A lot of the children are under the benches; kill them,’ ” recalled another student, 14-year-old Ahmed Faraz, from Lady Reading Hospital. “They climbed the benches and started firing at the children. ”

Most of those killed were between the ages of 12 and 16, said Pervez Khattak, chief minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, of which Peshawar is the capital

By 7 p.m., Lady Reading Hospital had already taken in 31 dead boys and another 45 injured boys, Bilal said. He described the condition of the injured as very serious, noting that many of them had gunshot wounds all over their bodies.

Obama: Pakistan attack shows Taliban ‘depravity’

Pakistan has seen plenty of violence, much of it involving militants based in provinces such as South Waziristan, North Waziristan and the Khyber Agency — all restive regions in northwest Pakistan, along its border with Afghanistan.

It is the home base the TTP, an organization that has sought to force its conservative version of Islam in Pakistan. They have battled Pakistani troops and, on a number of occasions, attacked civilians as well.

Schoolchildren have been among their targets. The most notable among them was Malala Yousafzai, who was singled out by Taliban militants October 9, 2012, and shot while riding from home. The teenage girl survived and, last week, became the youngest ever recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts to promote education and girls rights in Pakistan and beyond.

And Peshawar, an ancient city of more than 3 million people tucked right up against the Khyber Pass, has often found itself in the center of it all.

Militants have repeatedly targeted Peshawar in response to Pakistani military offensives, like a 2009 truck bombing of a popular marketplace frequented by women and children that killed more than 100 people.

Yousafzai said Tuesday she was “heartbroken by this (latest) senseless and cold blooded act of terror in Peshawar.”

“Innocent children in their school have no place in horror such as this,” the 16-year-old said.