Dec 21, 2:03 PM EST

Pakistan makes arrests in Taliban school carnage


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ISLAMABAD (AP) -- Authorities made several arrests in the case of the Taliban school attack that killed 148 in the northwestern city of Peshawar, on Sunday, officials said.

"Quite a few suspects who were facilitators in one way or the other have been taken into custody," Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said, adding that the interrogations were "moving ahead in a positive manner." He did not disclose their identities or say how many they were.

Seven Taliban gunmen wearing explosives belts stunned the world on Tuesday by storming into the military run school and slaughtering 148 people, including 132 students. Another nearly 121 students were wounded in the ensuing eight-hour siege of the school, located in an area where many military families live.

The group claims it fights to establish a ruling system based on its own harsh brand of Islam. It has killed thousands over nearly a decade.

The Taliban say they attacked the school in revenge for an army operation against them in North Waziristan, launched in mid-June. The army says it has so far killed over 1,200 militants in the operation.

The government bombed the militants' hideouts in country's tribal area along the Afghan border in response, and also lifted a ban on the execution of convicted terrorists.

Over the weekend, it executed six men convicted on terrorism charges.

Two of the convicts were hanged Friday, and another four on Sunday, according to two Pakistani government officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief reporters.

All six belonged to local Pakistani militant groups who had turned against the state, and were convicted for involvement in two attempts to assassinate former President Pervez Musharraf. One was also convicted of leading a militant siege of Pakistani army headquarters in garrison city of Rawalpindi in 2009.

Local militants have threatened attacks to avenge the hanged men.

Khan, the minister, said Pakistan was at war with the militants. He appealed to the nation to help authorities in a countrywide crackdown on the insurgents.

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Associated Press Writer Zaheer Babar in Lahore, Pakistan contributed to this report.

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