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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Monday, February 19, 2018

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Tributes pour in for Pakistani teen braveheart who got killed saving school

He stopped a suicide bomber from targeting his school

Share on Facebook January 9, 2014, Reporter : BigNewsNet, Reader : 447

Aitzaz Hasan was killed on Monday when he stopped a suicide bomber from targeting his school in the north-western district of Hangu news

ISLAMABAD - Tributes have been pouring in for a 15-year-old Pakistani boy who was killed on Monday when he stopped a suicide bomber from targeting his school in the north-western district of Hangu.

Aitzaz Hasan was with friends outside school when they spotted a man wearing a suicide vest.

Hasan noticed the bomber and his suicide vest outside Government High School Ibrahimzai, and went after the terrorist prompting the killer to detonate the explosion outside. The school is the only one serving the area, and there were roughly 2,000 students in the school at the time.

Hasan is being hailed as a hero in an outpouring of praise on social media.

The Pakistani public is urging the government to recognize the teen's bravery with the nation's highest military honor.

Many took to Twitter to express their appreciation and call for official acknowledgement of the young hero using the hashtags onemillionaitzaz and AitzazBraveheart:.

According to one media report, Aitzaz was on way to school on the morning of January 6 when he spotted a suspicious person. When the student called out to this person, he increased his speed and proceeded towards the school.

In an effort to stop the attacker, Aitzaz threw a stone which failed to hit him. This is when Aitzaz ran towards the bomber and grabbed him, thus preventing the attacker from entering the school. The suicide bomber detonated his vest and Aitzaz Hasan lost his life.

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.

His father Mujahid Ali Bangash, 55, says he feels not sadness but pride over his son's death.

"Aitzaz has made us proud by valiantly intercepting the bomber and saving the lives of hundreds of his fellow students," he said, writes AFP.

"I am happy that my son has become a martyr by sacrificing his life for a noble cause."

Bangash works in the UAE and was only able to reach Ibrahimzai village, which lies in an area of Hangu dominated by minority Shiite Muslims, the day after his son's funeral.

"Many people are coming to see me but if they try to express sympathy, I tell them to congratulate me instead on becoming the father of a martyr," he said.

"I will be even more than happy if my second son also sacrifices his life for the country."

Journalist Nasim Zehra tweeted on Thursday "We the citizens believe that State of Pk must award Nishan-i-Haider to Pk's brave son Shaheed Aitezaz,"'

"From Malala to Aitzaz Irum young people paving the way for Jinnah's Pakistan with their blood. onemillionaitzazs," blogger Murtaza Solangi tweeted.

"My cousin sacrificed his life saving his school and hundreds of students and school fellows," his cousin Mudassar Hassan Bangash 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."

He then described the sequence of events as related to him by witnesses at the school.

"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," Bangash 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.

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 Bangash, 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.

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.

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