pakistan taliban school attack Peshawar
The Peshawar school attacks left 130 dead Reuters

Students at the Peshawar school attacked by the Taliban were doing a disaster management course when the terrorists struck, according to a man who took part in the rescue operation.

Moeen Uddin, who provided counselling at the hospitals filled with hundreds of dead and wounded children, also told IBTimes UK that politicians got in the way of doctors trying to help the wounded, while distraught relatives implored their government to attack India.

Moeen said that, when the attackers invaded Peshawar's Army Public School, "there were activities going on, a function. The students were given a workshop on how to handle a disaster management workshop".

He added: "[When the terrorists attacked] senior students were told to lie down on the floor and pretend they are dead, but the children's instinct is to run away. The terrorists were hunting like you hunt your prey.

"An inspector told me that, when the rescue teams arrived, wounded people were shouting, children were shouting 'I'm hit in my back, legs, limbs, wherever'."

'It was as if the children had been playing with guns'

Moeen works in Islamabad as a teacher and social worker but is currently in Peshawar while he recovers from illness.

After learning of the attack on the news, he went to the two key hospitals treating the wounded – the Combined Military Hospital and the Lady Reading Hospital – to counsel the wounded and the families of the victims.

Moeen told IBTimes UK: "I saw ambulances and the dead bodies of the students. The bodies were on a closed ward. People were screaming, shouting, inconsolable.

"It was as if the children had been playing with guns. The bullets were in their hands, heads, limbs, everywhere the bloody idiot terrorists could hit them. Some had their whole bodies covered in bullets."

Responding to the suggestion that headless, limbless bodies were brought to the hospital, Moeen said: "I heard that some of the terrorists did blow themselves up, they were near to children and those children were affected as well. But what I know is that this headless, limbless line isn't true."

peshawar school attack
An injured student is taken to a hospital ward Fayaz Aziz/Reuters

'For the sake of the media people sacrifice their own children'

According to Moeen, the atmosphere of dismay and panic led to the misconception that the Indian government had perpetrated the attack.

He said: "I talked to the relatives. When they heard Raheel Sharif, chief of army staff, was returning from Quetta to Peshawar, every person was talking about attacking India, because 16 December is the anniversary of Bangladesh's separation from Pakistan and they believed this attack had a wider significance in terms of India, Pakistan and the region.

"They were blaming India and urging the general to make a statement attacking India. 'Ok Modi, you are pro-Hinduism, you have done it. Sharif, you give the statement, we will bury our children, we are with you.'

"It's not my job to tell them this was wrong. It's the government's job. I don't want to involve myself in such conspiracies."

Meanwhile, the politicians on the scene did little to help the situation.

Moeen said: "When I got to the second hospital, Lady Reading Hospital, the main civil hospital in Peshawar, there were politicians there, political leaders were coming. All the political leaders were point-scoring and giving their own political story.

"Doctors were crying: 'Leave us to do the treatment. If you want us to save their live of the children who can survive, do not enter the hospital.' But the media is so unethical in Pakistan that for the sake of the media, people can sacrifice their own children."

'Blood was still pouring from the dead bodies'

Of all the gruesome sights he saw, Moeen picked out two images as being particularly horrifying.

He said: "One was the cry of a father who told me that before dying, his son told him: 'I saved my class.' When the terrorist wanted to enter his room, the boy pushed the terrorist away. The terrorist shot the boy on the spot. He was wounded in the chest and eventually died.

"I also saw a dead body covered with a white cloth. In spite of the fact that he was dressed up, his blood was not stopping. I thought about my own sons and I was crying.

"These children were sent by their parents in the morning in the belief they'd be having lunch, tea at home. Instead, they will be buried."