Pakistan marked the first anniversary of one of its worst terrorist attacks on Wednesday, with hundreds gathering for a somber memorial ceremony at the Army Public School in the northwestern city of Peshawar where over 150 people — most of them children — were gunned down by Taliban militants on Dec. 16 last year.
The service was attended by Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, army chief Raheel Sharif and opposition leader Imran Khan, among several other top dignitaries, Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper reported.
Parents of the young victims, most of whom were under the age of 16, were given medals during the ceremony, as were survivors of the massacre. The school will also inaugurate a new auditorium and a Martyr’s Monument on its premises.
Various other tributes to the students that lost their lives were announced, including an initiative to rename 122 schools in the capital city Islamabad after many of the victims and a government fund of about $17.5 million for their families. Many families of the victims and survivors, however, have expressed unhappiness with the way they have been treated by the Pakistani government in the aftermath of the attack, with many telling Reuters that promises of funding and medical treatment have not been upheld.
Pakistan’s teenage Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai meanwhile hosted two of the attack’s survivors at a ceremony in Birmingham, England, where she has resided since being shot by Taliban militants in 2012 for her advocacy of women’s education.
The country remains on high alert, with news agency Agence France-Presse quoting a senior Interior Ministry official saying that thousands of extra police and paramilitary troops had been deployed in several cities.