In memory of
At least 83 madrassa students and men killed
Three injured boys
killed at 5:02 A.M. in the morning of Monday, October 29/30, 2006
in the tiny village of Chenagai, near Khar, Bajaur Agency, Pakistan. U.S. Predator drones fired Hellfire missiles at the Zia-ul-Uloom seminary (Madressah Ziaul Quran), Mamond area, in an alleged attempt to kill Al Qaeda’s #2, Ayman al-Zawahiri. Only three boys survived the deadly U.S. air strike – Zaid Wali, 14, who lost a leg and six fingers, Noor Rehman,16, who was badly burned and had part of his foot blown off, and Abu Bakr, 20, who had his legs crushed with shrapnel. Zaid Wali recounted, “I was in the washroom (at 5 AM when the first missile hit). The first blast blew me out of the building. After that the whole building collapsed.” As the boys and men started their morning exercises at 4:30 A.M., the strike occurred shortly after 5 a.m., hitting the men as they were exercising in the open yard, causing maximum casualties. The Pakistani daily, The News, reported
Eyewitnesses said three missiles were fired from a pilot-less Predator plane at the seminary in Chenagai village. They claimed the drone had been flying over the area all night. Gunship helicopters and a plane were also seen flying over Mamond and Khar areas. They also claimed to have seen helicopters over flying Bajaur the previous three nights. Villagers said they had recovered some bodies in one piece from the flattened building of the seminary, while in most cases only body organs and burnt flesh could be retrieved. They said 40 of the dead had been identified with great difficulty. “The bodies were burnt. Pieces of flesh were strewn all over the place. Rescuers were picking up body parts and putting them in bags and Chaddars,” said Mushtaq Yousafzai, a reporter for The News, who had spent the night in Bajaur in anticipation of the peace accord that was scheduled to be signed on Monday and was among the first to reach the site of the attack. He said the Madrassa was completely destroyed and part of the adjacent mosque was damaged.
The attack killed dozens of students as well as the seminary’s leader, Maulana Liaqat Ullah. Villagers said most of the dead were students aged 15 to 25 years. They said the students mostly belonged to Bajaur, while some were from the nearby districts of Dir and Swat. In the aftermath, huge protest demonstrations were held across Bajaur Agency. Rahimullah Yusufzai adds
The seminary isn't located in some mountainous area or close to the Afghan border as is often claimed. Another claim made by the intelligence agencies is that no child or teenager was killed in the attack. Survivors Abu Bakar, Said Wali and Noor Rahman, now under treatment in a Peshawar hospital, are claiming that students aged seven to 20 and all Pakistanis were killed in the assault. They are also denying that the madrasseh was being used for military training or that foreign militants used to visit it. The youngsters are denying affiliation even to the radical pro-Taliban Islamic organisation, the Tanzim Nifaz Shariah-i-Mohammadi (TNSM), to which their late head teacher Maulana Liaquat Ali belonged. If the target was Maulana Liaquat, or his boss Maulana Faqir Mohammad, who wasn't at the seminary at the time of the attack, one fails to understand why the government was holding peace talks with them through Mamond tribal elders. In any case, killing 80 people just to eliminate one or two low-value targets can hardly be justified [The writer is an executive editor of The News International based in Peshawar].
The U.S. tried to cover up its role in the attack by letting Pakistani authorities take responsibility, a lie which quickly evaporated. The U.S. strike is a repeat of the Damadola attack carried out in January 2006. The photos below reveal the consequences of the murderous U.S. attack (Reuters’ photos)
Killed by Hellfire missiles fired from a Predator drone (photo below)