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Pakistan military OKs death sentences for 6 school attackers

Pakistan military OKs death sentences for 6 school attackers
A Pakistani army soldier on Dec. 18, 2014, looks at a bullet ridden wall of the Army Public School that was attacked by Taliban militants two days earlier. (Arshad Arbab / European Pressphoto Agency)

Pakistan's military chief on Thursday approved death sentences for six men convicted in last year's devastating attack on an army-run school in this northern city, while another man was sentenced to life in prison.

The army's Inter Services Public Relations said in a statement that a military court convicted the defendants in the case. It marked the first death sentences approved by Gen. Raheel Sharif following the Pakistani Supreme Court's Aug. 5 decision allowing for the establishment of military courts.

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The military statement gave no details of how and where the trial or trials were conducted, but listed the roles of the convicted men in militant attacks, the details of which could not be independent confirmed.

"The convicts were given fair trial by following all the legal formalities and providing them legal aid and defense counsels," the statement said.

Six of the defendants belonged to a little known militant group, Toheedwal Jihad Group, while the seventh was a member of the outlawed Pakistani Taliban, an anti-government organization, military officials said.

The attack Dec. 16 on the Army Public School in Peshawar left 151 people dead, including 125 students. The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility.

"We appreciate these convictions as it will provide us a little solace, but at the same time we also want that the masterminds shall also be brought to book, tried and awarded exemplary punishment," said Malik Tahiq Awan, father of student Malik Osama Tahir, who was killed in the assault.

The alleged mastermind of the attack, a Pakistani Taliban commander known as Khalifa Omer Mansoor, is still at large and believed to be in Afghanistan.

Ali is a special correspondent.

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