Pakistani military courts have sentenced seven militants to death over a series of attacks, including that killed more than 140 people in December, while another has been sentenced to life in prison.
According to an army statement released on Thursday, six of the men were members of the militant group Tawhid wal-Jihad and the other two were from the Pakistani and Jaish-e-Mohammad. Pakistan’s chief of army staff, Raheel Sharif, confirmed the sentences although it was unclear when they would be carried out.
Pakistan’s military says the men belonging to Tawhid wal-Jihad played a major role in planning and facilitating the school attack and several others. But the school attack was claimed by the Pakistani Taliban, a separate militant group.
The attack on the school in Peshawar, in which nearly all the victims were schoolchildren, shocked Pakistanis and led the country which had been in place since 2008. Pakistan’s parliament then to allow military courts to try civilians in terrorism cases. The supreme court earlier this month.
Tawhid wal-Jihad was established in the late 1990s by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who went on to lead al-Qaida’s Iraq affiliate – a precursor to Islamic State – before he was killed in a US air strike in 2006.
Pakistan has launched a number of military operations against the Pakistani Taliban but has also been accused of turning a blind eye to other militant groups which are seen as allies against India and as a way of projecting influence in neighbouring . Islamabad and Kabul have long accused each other of sheltering militants involved in cross-border attacks.
The army said the trials were fair and that the accused can appeal against their convictions.