PESHAWAR - There were pools of blood. Scattered body parts. Countless shoes of students. The teachers' staff room and principal's office were nothing but charred shells; reeking of blood and horror.

A day after the country's worst terror attack that has convulsed the country and sent shivers through the residents of this city, the Army Public School and Degree College stood as a grim testimony to the horror it witnessed on Tuesday last.

Army troops have cordoned off the premises. I was allowed to enter the compound after repeated requests. Officials said the building is still not declared as 'clear'. As I climbed the main staircase, I was confronted with a devastating sight: shoes lay about, school bags and remnants of the green uniform of students were strewn around.

A note book of a class 8th student, Mohammad Asim, lay in a pool of blood, its pages stained with curdled blood. I tried to run through the pages but could not after I read a quote on one page: "I shall rise and I shall shine." Such ambitions, such dreams all crushed under the weight of terrorism that has cast a dark pall over this school, and elsewhere in the city.

The blood marked finger prints of Asim were still visible on the notebook. He must have clutched it tightly while facing the rampaging terrorists as they slaughtered his fellow students.

People living near the school told me that they were still in a state of shock. Most of the males of this neighborhood had gone to work. The remaining got busy in trying to douse the fire after they saw a vehicle smouldering in flames. It turned out that the terrorists had set the vehicle alight as a distraction while they scaled the rear wall of the school, using a ladder.

"Terrorists used tinted glass on their vehicle and were not identified by any one," said one resident of the neighborhood, asking not to be identified by name.

Inam Khan, another resident, however, was not afraid to talk to the press. He told me that three of the attackers had reportedly first entered the auditorium, which is in one of the three blocks in the school. In the auditorium alone about 100 students were killed, he said.

The students were in a large group at that time, gathered in the hall, attending a workshop on first-aid.

First-aid tools lay on a table on the stage. The floor here, too, was covered with blood. Some children apparently tried to hide in a toilet adjacent to the auditorium but the assailants tracked them there and killed them. Trails of blood tell of their desperation as they tried to flee and were shot dead.

"They finished in minutes, what I had lived my whole life for, my son," said Akhtar Hussain, a labourer by profession, tears streaming down his face as he buried his 14-year-old, Fahad. He said he had worked for years in Dubai to earn a livelihood for his children. "That innocent one is now in the grave, and I can't wait to join him," he screamed while beating himself. "I can't live anymore."

The body of the school principal, Tahira Qazi, was retrieved overnight from the debris. Mrs. Qazi was inside her office when the militants made their way into the administration building, some 20 meters (yards) from the auditorium. She ran and locked herself into the bathroom but the attackers threw a grenade inside, through a vent, and killed her, Maj. Gen. Asim Saleem Bajwa, the army spokesman, was quoted as saying.

Several funerals were also held overnight but most of the victims still awaited burial by Wednesday evening. It seemed that their relatives were not yet ready to separate the dead bodies of their sweet ones. They wanted to wait a little longer. They were still trying to gather the courage to bury them inside the graves.