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Pakistan teen dies tackling suicide bomber

Tributes calling the 14-year-old a hero and comparing him to Malala pour in after the braveheart tackled the bomber outside school

A 14-year-old boy is being hailed as a hero in Pakistan for tackling a suicide bomber -- dying at the main gate of his school and saving schoolmates gathered for their morning assembly.

Ninth-grader Aitazaz Hassan Bangash was on his way to the Ibrahimzai School on Monday in the Hangu district of northern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province when the bomber, dressed in a school uniform, asked him where the school was, said the teen’s cousin.


Braveheart: Aitazaz Bangash

Aitazaz and his cousin, Musadiq Ali Bangash, became suspicious, Musadiq said. “The other students backed off, but Aitazaz challenged the bomber and tried to catch him. During the scuffle, the bomber panicked and detonated his bomb,” he said.

He described Aitazaz as ‘brave’ and a good student. “He always used to say ‘I am always ready for my country’.” Rajab Ali, who also witnessed the bombing, added that he saw Aitazaz throw a large stone at a boy trying to enter the school. The blast happened when Aitazaz grabbed him, he said.

Aitazaz and the bomber died at the scene. Witnesses say the blast injured two other people. His family insist that rather than focus on the sorrow brought about by his death, they want to focus on their pride in his actions.

“He is a shahid [martyr]. A shahid of his whole nation,” Bangash added.His family have also spoken of Aitazaz’s actions.“My son made his mother cry, but saved hundreds of mothers from crying for their children,” Mujahid Ali, Aitazaz’s father was quoted as saying. Iftikhar Ahmed, a Hangu district police officer, confirmed the details of the attack.

“It was a great sacrifice to save the lives of hundreds of both Shia and Sunni students, who were in morning assembly,” Musadiq said.

‘Our hero’
Local residents are calling for Aitazaz to receive a posthumousaward for his bravery. “He saved the lives of hundreds of students. He deserves more recognition than Malala Yousafzai,” he said.

Pakistanis are comparing him to Malala, the teen shot by the Taliban in 2012 for promoting education. Pakistanis on social media are praising Aitazaz’s bravery, with people on Twitter asking everyone to use hastags #onemillionaitzazs or simply #aitzaz and calling for his heroism to be recognised with an award.      

20,000
Number of students present at the school at the time of the incident

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