“They killed 80 teenagers who were students of the Quran.” Yes, and how does that establish in any way that this was not a “terrorist-training facility,” as Major General Shaukat Sultan called it?
KHAR, Pakistan Pakistan’s army spokesman said Tuesday the military used intelligence provided by U.S.-led coalition forces in an air raid that left 80 people dead, while thousands of pro-Taliban tribesmen threatened to send suicide bombers to attack Pakistan forces and execute people found spying for the Americans….
Meanwhile, up to 20,000 people protested Tuesday in Khar, the main town in Pakistan’s northwestern tribal Bajur district, claiming innocent students and teachers were killed in the attack. They chanted,” “Death to Bush! Death to Musharraf!”
In a fiery speech, local pro-Taliban elder Inayatur Rahman said he has prepared a “squad of suicide bombers” to target Pakistani security forces in the same way that militants are attacking Americans in Afghanistan and Iraq.
“We will carry out these suicide attacks soon,” he said, asking the crowd if they approved the idea. The angry mob yelled back in unison, “Yes!”
The rally also adopted a verbal resolution to stone to death anyone found spying for the Pakistan army or U.S. government. Protesters demanded compensation for the families of those killed.
Islamic leaders had called for nationwide protests Tuesday to denounce the air raid in Chingai village, located 10 kilometers (about 6 miles) from Khar near the Afghan border. It was the deadliest-ever military operation launched against suspected militants in the country….
The attack threatened efforts by President Gen. Pervez Musharraf to persuade deeply conservative tribespeople to back his government over pro-Taliban and al-Qaida fighters, who enjoy strong support in many semiautonomous regions in northern Pakistan.
The attack also sparked claims of U.S. collusion with Pakistan, with villagers saying fixed-wing drone aircraft were seen flying over the town in the days before the attack, according to the Dawn daily newspaper….
Fears are high that the attack will fan unrest across Pakistan. In the northwestern city of Peshawar, 500 members of a hard-line Islamic group burned an effigy of U.S. President George W. Bush on Tuesday and denounced Musharraf. A smaller protest was also held in the southern city of Multan.
The unrest caused Britain’s Prince Charles, currently in Pakistan, to cancel his planned Tuesday trip to Peshawar, located in the country’s northwest.
Many local lawmakers and regional Cabinet ministers resigned in protest over the attack. The planned signing of a peace deal between tribal leaders and the military was also canceled Monday in response to the airstrike….
Pakistan’s most influential Islamist political leader, Qazi Hussain Ahmed, was to lead a convoy of cars Tuesday from the northwestern city of Peshawar to Khar and Chingai, his spokesman, Shahid Shamsi, said.
“They killed 80 teenagers who were students of the Quran,” Ahmed told reporters on Monday.