Relatives sobbed and hugged as Sabika Sheikh's body arrived in a casket draped with a Pakistani flag. She was among 10 people killed in mass shooting by a classmate at Santa Fe High School in Texas on Friday.

Relatives and neighbours carry the coffin, wrapped in Pakistani national flag, containing the body of Sabika Aziz Sheikh, an exchange student, who was killed with others when a gunman attacked Santa Fe High School in Texas, during her funeral in Karachi on May 23, 2018.
Relatives and neighbours carry the coffin, wrapped in Pakistani national flag, containing the body of Sabika Aziz Sheikh, an exchange student, who was killed with others when a gunman attacked Santa Fe High School in Texas, during her funeral in Karachi on May 23, 2018. (Reuters)

Hundreds mourned a Pakistani exchange student killed in a mass shooting at a Texas high school last week during her burial in Karachi Wednesday.

Sabika Sheikh, 17, was among eight students and two teachers killed in Texas when Santa Fe High School, southeast of Houston, on Friday joined a grim list of US schools and campuses where students and staff have been gunned down, stoking a divisive debate about gun laws.

Relatives sobbed and hugged as Sheikh's body arrived on Tuesday in a casket draped with a Pakistani flag at her family home in Karachi in the middle class Gulshane-e-Iqbal neighbourhood.

The body was then taken to a public meeting ground where hundreds gathered to say prayers and pay their respects before the burial at a nearby cemetery.

Paramilitary soldiers stand guard as relatives and neighbours offer prayers for Sabika Aziz Sheikh during her funeral in Karachi on May 23, 2018.
Paramilitary soldiers stand guard as relatives and neighbours offer prayers for Sabika Aziz Sheikh during her funeral in Karachi on May 23, 2018. (Reuters)

"Martyrs don't die"

"My daughter is a martyr and martyrs don't die," Sheikh's father Abdul Aziz said after the prayers. 

Officials participating the ceremony labelled her killing an act of terrorism.

"The whole nation stands by the Pakistani girl who was martyred in a terrorist attack in the US. May God give patience to her parents and family," provincial governor Mohammad Zubair told reporters after the funeral.

Aziz Sheikh (L) father of Sabika Aziz Sheikh comforts her friends, during her funeral in Karachi on May 23, 2018.
Aziz Sheikh (L) father of Sabika Aziz Sheikh comforts her friends, during her funeral in Karachi on May 23, 2018. (Reuters)

Hours earlier, a Pakistani honour guard escorted Sheikh's casket off a plane at Karachi's Jinnah International airport during a ceremony overseen by government officials and US consul General John E Warner. 

Sheikh was part of the YES exchange programme funded by the US State Department, which provides scholarships for students from countries with significant Muslim populations to spend an academic year in the United States. 

She was due to return to Pakistan on June 9.

Relatives carry the casket, wrapped in Pakistani national flag and shawl, locally known as Ajrak, containing the body of Sabika Aziz Sheikh outside her residence in Karachi on May 23, 2018.
Relatives carry the casket, wrapped in Pakistani national flag and shawl, locally known as Ajrak, containing the body of Sabika Aziz Sheikh outside her residence in Karachi on May 23, 2018. (Reuters)

"Great loss to Pakistan"

"I have no words to express my feelings," family friend Mohammad Ali said after the coffin arrived at the family home. 

"It is a great loss to Pakistan. She wanted to do a lot for this country."

Sheikh's death came just three months after another school massacre in Parkland, Florida killed 17 people, sparking an unprecedented grassroots, student-led gun control movement.

The shooting in Santa Fe was the 22nd such incident at a US school this year, according to media reports, a disturbing statistic in a country where firearms are part of everyday life and there are more than 30,000 gun-related deaths annually.

Source: AFP