A teenager who was injured in Tuesday’s attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar owes his life to his teacher, who tried to shield her students from the Taliban gunmen that opened fire on them.
The militants killed 141 people, most of them children, in the worst attack in Pakistan’s history. Speaking from the Lady Reading Hospital, Irfanullah, 15, told Newsweek he would likely be dead if his teacher, 24-year-old Afsha Ahmed, hadn’t intervened.
“They [terrorists] entered our classroom as we were sitting with our teacher,” said Irfanullah, who was shot in the chest and is currently recovering in hospital. “She seemed to understand what was going on before we did because she immediately stood up and prevented the terrorists from targeting us,” he added.
According to a tearful Irfanullah, Ahmed told the terrorists that she would not allow them to shoot her students. “She was so brave,” he said. “Her last words to the terrorists were: ‘You must kill me first because I will not see my students’ bodies lying in front of me,’” he added.
Irfanullah says the Taliban didn’t seem to care about anything she said and immediately threw something on her body. “The next thing we knew, she was on fire,” he said. “Even while burning, she shouted at us to run away and find refuge.”
The teenager says he still feels guilty for abandoning his teacher, despite knowing he could have done nothing. “I feel so selfish for running away instead of trying to find a way to save her,” he said. “She is my hero … she was like a superwoman,” said Irfanullah. “Who will teach us now?”