"'God is great,'" the Taliban militants shouted as they roared through the hallways of a school in Peshawar, Pakistan.
Then, 14-year-old student Ahmed Faraz recalled, one of them took a harsher tone.
" 'A lot of the children are under the benches,' " a Pakistani Taliban said, according to Ahmed. " 'Kill them.' "
By the time the hours-long siege at Army Public School and Degree College ended early Tuesday evening, at least 145 people -- 132 children, 10 school staff members and three soldiers -- were dead, military spokesman Gen. Asim Bajwa said. More than 100 were injured, many with gunshot wounds, according to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province Information Minister Mushtaq Ghani.
The death toll does not include the terrorists who attacked the school, bursting into an auditorium where a large number of students were taking an exam and gunning down many of them within minutes, Bajwa said.
"They started shooting indiscriminately," Bajwa said, "and that's where maximum damage was caused."
Pakistani Taliban spokesman Mohammed Khurrassani said the militants scaled the school's walls around 10 a.m. (midnight ET), intent on killing older students there.
The Taliban had "300 to 400 people ... under their custody" at one point, said Khurrassani, whose group is called Tehreek e Taliban Pakistan, or TTP. But Bajwa said there was no hostage situation, as the attackers' focus was shooting to kill rather than taking captives.
They were eventually met by Pakistani troops who pushed through the complex building by building, room by room. By 4 p.m., they'd confined the attackers to four buildings. A few hours later, all the militants -- seven of them, according to Bajwa -- were dead.
Pakistani authorities spent Tuesday night inside the school in Peshawar, a city about 120 kilometers (75 miles) from the country's capital, Islamabad, looking for survivors, victims and improvised explosive devices planted to worsen the carnage.
As they searched, they discovered that the school's principal was among the terrorists' victims.
The attack drew sharp condemnation from top Pakistani officials, who vowed that the country wouldn't stop its war against the Taliban.
"We are undeterred. ... We will not back off," Defense Minister Khawaja Asif told CNN.
But he said the ambush at the school is another example of how great his nation's sacrifices have been in fighting that's raged for more than a decade.
"Even the children are dying on the frontline in the war against terror," he said. "The smaller the coffin, the heavier it is to carry. ... It's a very, very tragic day."