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Pakistan Raid On Madrasa Kills 80 Al Qaeda

From a disheartened Reuters:

Tribesmen gather near the bodies of those killed during a Pakistan army air strike in Chenagai in the Bajaur tribal region bordering Afghanistan, October 30, 2006.

Pakistan army kills up to 80 at Qaeda-linked school

Mon Oct 30, 2006
By Anwarullah Khan

KHAR, Pakistan (Reuters) – Pakistani army helicopters killed around 80 suspected militants on Monday in a dawn attack on a religious school run by a pro-Taliban commander wanted for harboring al Qaeda fighters, a military spokesman said.

The army said the religious school or madrasa in Chenagai, 10 km (six miles) north of Khar, the main town in the Bajaur tribal region bordering Afghanistan, was being used as a militant training camp.

The strike killed almost everyone present in the madrasa, although at least three wounded were taken to hospital in Khar.

"The compound has been destroyed," Major-General Shaukat Sultan told Reuters.

"According to our local sources, up to 80 deaths have been confirmed," he said. No ground troops were sent in to mop up.

Residents said they had seen three or four army helicopters flying over Chenagai at around 5 a.m..

No prominent militant was believed to be in the compound when it was attacked, Sultan said. Security officials said one of those killed was Maulana Liaqatullah, the pro-Taliban commander who ran the madrasa.

Sultan said there were no women or children present.

Some villagers said there were young children among those killed, but Maulana Faqir Mohammad, a militant commander at the target site, told Reuters Television that the dead were aged between 15 and 25.

Bodies covered with white sheets lay in rows as Mohammad addressed hundreds of gunmen gathered by the ruined madrasa, declaring his support for al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and Taliban chief Mullah Mohammad Omar.

"May Allah protect Sheikh Osama. May Allah protect Mullah Omar," the long-haired, bearded militant leader said.

Thousands of tribesmen rallied in Khar chanting "Down with America," "Down with Bush" and "Down with Musharraf".

The leader of Jamaat-e-Islami, Pakistan’s most influential Islamist party, condemned the attack as "barbaric" and claimed it was carried out by U.S.-led forces from across the border.

"This alien attack… is tantamount to a declaration of war on Pakistan," Qazi Hussain Ahmed told a news conference, while a senior minister from his party resigned in protest from the provincial government in North West Frontier Province…

Monday’s attack came two days after 3,000 militants held a rally near Khar, chanting support for bin Laden and Omar.

Talks between tribal elders and militants to reach a peace deal along the lines of the one struck in North Waziristan last month appeared to have failed, local clerics said

Yes, it is beginning to look like the reports that Pakistan signed a separate peace deal with the Taliban may have been somewhat exaggerated.

Monday’s attack came two days after 3,000 militants held a rally near Khar, chanting support for bin Laden and Omar.

What a crying shame this attack didn’t come two days earlier.

This article was posted by Steve on Monday, October 30th, 2006. Comments are currently closed.

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