Tributes to Pakistan teenager killed when he stopped a bomber
- 116 Posts
"The suicide bomber wanted to destroy the school and school students. It was my cousin who stopped him from this...destruction."
Tributes have been pouring in for a Pakistani teenager who was killed on Monday when he tackled a suicide bomber targeting his school in the Hangu area.
Aitzaz Hasan, 15, was with friends outside school when they spotted a man wearing a suicide vest.
Despite the pleas of his fellow students, he decided to confront and capture the bomber who then detonated his vest, his cousin told the BBC.
Aitzaz is being hailed as a hero in an outpouring of praise on social media.
There have even been calls for him to receive the army's highest honour awarded to those who have sacrificed their life for their country, though it is unclear if he would be qualified to receive it as a civilian.
"We the citizens believe that State of Pk must award Nishan-i-Haider to Pk's brave son Shaheed Aitezaz," journalist Nasim Zehra tweeted on Thursday.
The incident took place on Monday in Ibrahimzai, a Shia-dominated region of Hangu, in north-western Pakistan. There were almost 2,000 students in attendance at the time of the attack, media reports say.
"My cousin sacrificed his life saving his school and hundreds of students and school fellows," his cousin Mudassar Hassan Bangish told the BBC's Aleem Maqbool.
"The suicide bomber wanted to destroy the school and school students. It was my cousin who stopped him from this...destruction."There were said to be about 2,000 students at Aitzaz's school at the time of the attack
He then described the sequence of events as related to him by witnesses at the school.
Aitzaz's friends had urged him not to confront the suicide bomber but he ignored their pleas and decided to confront the man with the intention of halting him.
"So he told them 'I'm going to stop him. He is going to school to kill my friends'. He wanted to capture this suicide bomber. He wanted to stop [him]. Meanwhile the suicide bomber blasted himself which resulted in the death of my cousin," Mr Bangish said.
He described Aitzaz as "brave" and a good student. "He always used to say 'I am always ready for my country'."
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," he said.Aitzaz's death: Twitter reaction
Hundreds of users have been tweeting the story of Pakistan's fallen teenager.
"Aitzaz Hasan, 15 years old, gave his life to stop a suicide bomber in Pakistan. A reminder to us all what real courage is. RIP, brave soul," writer and journalist Omer Aziz tweeted on Thursday.
"From #Malala to #Aitzaz Irum young people paving the way for Jinnah's #Pakistan with their blood. #onemillionaitzazs," blogger Murtaza Solangi tweeted.
Government officials have not yet visited the school or Aitzaz's family, prompting requests from Twitter users that they do so. Politicians and public figures also added to the chorus of praise for Aitzaz.
His family have also spoken of Aitzaz's actions in Pakistan's Express Tribune newspaper.
"My son made his mother cry, but saved hundreds of mothers from crying for their children," Mujahid Ali, Aitzaz's father is quoted as saying.
According to Mr Bangish, people in the area would like to see the government give Aitzaz an award to recognise his bravery, and compared him with celebrated Pakistani education campaigner Malala Yousafzai - a comparison being echoed across social media.
On Twitter, users are paying tribute to Aitzaz using the hashtags #onemillionaitzaz and #AitzazBraveheart echoing the language used online around figures such as Malala and the Delhi rape victim, whose death galvanised Indian public opinion and prompted changes in rape laws there.
Former Pakistani ambassador to the US Sherry Rehman tweeted:"Hangu's shaheed Aitzaz Hasan is #Pakistan's pride. Give him a medal at least. Another young one with heartstopping courage #AitzazBraveheart."
Hangu is close to Pakistan's semi-autonomous tribal regions, which have a strong Taliban and al-Qaeda presence and the area is also known for sectarian violence against Shia Muslims.
Mr Bangish said the region's residents are "patriotic people" but have to contend with difficult conditions.
He he added that in order to cope with such conditions and tackle the "fights and blast ... needs courage like Aitzaz has. We salute his bravery".