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January 10, 2014
A Pakistani boy, who died trying to defend his school in the troubled north-west from a suicide bomber, has been praised as a national hero with his name being recommended for a top civilian honour for saving the lives of many of his classmates.

Aitzaz Hassan, 15, tackled a suicide bomber as he stood outside as a punishment for being late to school in Hangu, a town in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, on Monday.

Aitzaz grabbed the bomber but he could not stop him from detonating the bomb and died of his wounds in hospital later. No one else was wounded or killed in the incident.

According to AFP, Nasir Khan Durrani, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chief of police, has written to the provincial chief minister recommending Hassan for the posthumous award.

"The suicide bomber tried to enter the school where hundreds of students were studying. Aitzaz Hassan sacrificed his life and stopped the bomber with bravery and courage," the police statement issued late on Thursday said.

His father Mujahid Ali Bangash told AFP he felt not sadness but pride at his son's death.

"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 Shia Muslims, the day after his son's funeral, AFP said.

"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.

An editorial in Pakistan's Dawn newspaper said "those in power should learn a thing or two from a young schoolboy about courageously standing up to violent extremism."

"In this case, the militants may have snuffed out a promising young life; but there is little they can do to subdue the spirit which drove the young man to sacrifice his life in order to resist tyranny and fanaticism. The state must condole with the young man’s family and offer them all possible assistance. Equally important, those in power should learn a thing or two from a young schoolboy about courageously standing up to violent extremism."

On social media, praise poured in for the young boy for fighting back with many calling him the pride of Pakistan.

"Sacrifice of young teenager from Hangu Shaheed Aitzaz who gave his life to save others from a suicide bomber will not go in vain InshaAllah," wrote Imran Khan, chief of Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf party and former cricketer.

Sherry Rehman, Pakistan's former ambassador to the United States, tweeted: "Hangu's shaheed (martyr) Aitzaz Hasan is Pakistan's pride. Give him a medal at least. Another young one with heartstopping courage #AitzazBraveheart."

Here are a few tweets:

(With inputs from AFP)