Chenagai airstrike

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Chenagai airstrike
Part of the War on Terrorism
Date October 30, 2006
Location Chenagai, Bajaur, Pakistan
Result Successful strike on suspected Taliban stronghold (Pakistani government claims).
Belligerents
United States CIA (as cited by eyewitness),
Pakistan Pakistan Army (Pakistani government claims)
Afghanistan Pro-Taliban militants (Pakistani claim)
Strength
Unspecified number of aircraft (Pakistani government claims 3 gunships while eyewitness reports drones) Unspecified (estimated to be 90)
Casualties and losses
None 70-80

The Chenagai airstrike took place on October 30, 2006, around 5:00 am. local time. Missiles were fired at a madrassa in Chenagai village in Bajaur region of Pakistan. An eyewitness has stated that the madrassa was filled with local students who had resumed studies after the Eid ul-Fitr holiday. 82 people died in the attack. Initially it was reported that the Pakistani military carried out the attack, but later, the US was accused of the attacks. The US denied involvement.[1][2][3][4][5]

Background[edit]

The attack came two days after about 3,000 fighters held a rally near Khar, shouting slogans in support of Osama bin Laden, the leader of al-Qaeda, and Mullah Mohammed Omar, the Taliban's leader. In January 2006, US forces in Afghanistan carried out an airstrike in Bajaur's Damadola village which US officials said was aimed at al-Qaeda's second-in-command, Ayman al-Zawahiri. Al-Zawahiri was not present during the attack.

The airstrike[edit]

The attack took place in Chenagai village[1] near the town of Khar, the main town in Bajaur region. The leader of the madrassa, cleric Maulana Liaqat Ullah Hussain, was believed to be sheltering al-Qaeda militants and was among the dead. Locals claimed that the missiles were fired by US drones. About 15 minutes later, they said, three helicopter gunships of the Pakistan Army arrived and fired a few rockets that slammed into nearby hills. [4]

U.S. involvement[edit]

According to the American Broadcasting Company, the attack was launched by a MQ-1 Predator with Ayman al-Zawahiri as its intended target.[6] However, the report's author has since been removed from ABC's site due to questions concerning the reliability of his reporting.

In Afghanistan, U.S. military spokesman Maj. Matt Hackathorn denied the U.S. was involved in the strike. "It was completely done by the Pakistani military," he told the Associated Press. A spokesman for the Pakistani Foreign Office also denied involvement of any external influence or pressure, saying of the airstrike, "It is something that we have done and we have been doing for peace and security in our own region".[7]

However, later Pakistani officials have claimed that the strike was actually conducted by the U.S. and that they have also requested the U.S. not to violate their sovereignty again. “We thought it would be less damaging if we said we did it rather than the US,” said a key aide to President Pervez Musharraf. Local people claimed the victims included boys as young as 12 but Pakistani officials insisted they had been shown satellite images of people training and had checked the identity cards of all those killed, and that all were adults. [8]

Reaction[edit]

There were angry reactions in response to the strike. Many Muslim groups have condemned the action [9] saying that there should have been a warning or the government should have arrested and brought to trial any suspected militants. Faqir Mohammed, a local leader with suspected ties to al-Qaeda, stated "The government attacked and killed our innocent people on orders from America".[9] Sirajul Haq, the senior Minister and Provincial Chief of the Jamaat-e-Islami party, resigned from the provincial cabinet in protest against the strikes.[10] Sahibzada Haroonur Rashid, MNA (Member of National Assembly) from Bajaur Agency, also resigned from the National Assembly in protest.[11]

Retaliation[edit]

Following attacks against the madrasa in the Bajaur tribal agency, on November 8, 2006, a suicide bomber killed 42 Pakistani soldiers and injured 20 others in Dargai, 85 miles north-west of Islamabad.[1] It has already called the deadliest attack by the militants on the army since it began operations against pro-Taliban and al-Qaeda forces.[2] Though no one has claimed responsibility as yet, the attack has been linked to the Bajaur militants.[3]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Pakistani troops kill 80 in air strikes on madrasa". DAWN. 2006-10-30. Retrieved 2006-10-30. 
  2. ^ "Pakistan madrassa raid 'kills 80'". BBC News. 2006-10-30. Retrieved 2006-10-30. 
  3. ^ "'Al Qaeda school' attack: 80 dead". CNN. 2006-10-30. Archived from the original on 2006-11-01. Retrieved 2006-10-30. 
  4. ^ a b "82 die as missiles rain on Bajaur: Pakistan owns up to strike; locals blame US drones". DAWN. 2006-10-31. Retrieved 2006-10-30. 
  5. ^ "US carried out madrasah bombing". London: The Sunday Times website. 2006-11-26. Retrieved 2006-12-03. 
  6. ^ Debat, Alexis (2006-10-30). "Zawahiri Was Target in U.S. Attack on Religious School in Pakistan". Retrieved 2006-10-31. 
  7. ^ "Bajaur operation not under any pressure: FO". DAWN. 2006-10-30. Retrieved 2006-10-31. 
  8. ^ "US carried out madrasah bombing". London: The Sunday Times website. 2006-11-26. Retrieved 2006-12-03. 
  9. ^ a b "Pakistan school raid sparks anger". BBC News. 2006-10-30. Retrieved 2006-10-30. 
  10. ^ "NWFP senior minister resigns". DAWN. 2006-10-30. Retrieved 2006-10-31. 
  11. ^ "MNA resigns in protest against air strike". DAWN. 2006-10-30. Retrieved 2006-10-31.