Saturday, January 14, 2006

The Zawahiri Attack in the Pakistan Press

These are excerpts from Pakistani accounts of the attack, which is now reported by Western news agencies to have resulted in the deaths of five senior al Qaeda members. Most of the Pakistani stories speculate that the attack was targeting Taliban fugitives, and carried out by Coalition aircraft based in Afghanistan.

There is some disagreement from supposed eyewitnesses as to whose houses were hit. Much of the information given to Pakistani news agencies came from a local politico, Haroon ur Rashid, who is a hardline Muslim unsympathetic to the West.

I've added emphasis to what may be indications that al Qaeda bodies were removed, though none of the accounts mention al Qaeda or Zawahiri. I've also highlighted what seem to be disagreements as to which houses were struck. Also, one of these stories contains the only report I've seen of live suspects being detained.

The Nation:
According to our correspondent, the incident happened when a village close to the Pak-Afghan border was mysteriously attacked with rockets and missiles. Tribesmen at the joint funeral of the victims said that several gunship US helicopters took part in the well-planned operation which was carried out a few days after Pakistan protested to the US military in Afghanistan over the deaths of another eight people in cross-border firing.
In Friday’s attack, the houses owned by Maulana Muhammad Ismael, Sher Afzal and Bakht Pur Jan were targeted and the Hujras (portions for guests) were badly damaged.
Meanwhile, NWFP Senior Minister Sirajul Haq said that 17 persons were killed and six injured. The minister, who hails from Lower Dir district adjacent to Bajaur Agency, has demanded of the federal government to take notice of the incident and lodge a protest with, what he called, United States forces camping across the border in Kunar province of Afghanistan.
The tribal elders from Khar who attended the joint funeral said that 18 victims had been laid to rest in the village graveyard.
Tribesmen said that a number of bodies had been airlifted from the area while a few persons were also detained and shifted to unknown place.
Maulvi Faqir Muhammad, a local religious figure, who was accused of providing shelter to alleged militants, also attended the funeral besides elders from the area. In May 2005, operations were conducted in Mamund tehsil for nabbing Maulvi Faqir Muhammad but he is still at large.
Pak Tribune:
The bombardment by the Allied forces, fell on Damadola Burkanday area of tehsil Mamoon in Bajaur agency at 3:00 am PST, completely flattening the homes of BakhtPur, Muhammad Rahim and Bacha Khan.

According to local eyewitnesses, fourteen members of BakhtPur family along with four others died, due to indiscriminate bombing. The dead included eight children, and four females. The dead included, 9-year old Nadia Bibi, 10-year old Sadiqa, 9-year old Tayyeb, 7 year old Zahid ullah, 5-year old Hussain Nawaz. Others included 20-year-old Ameer Muhammad, 25-year-old Nazir Muhammad, 50-year Noor Pari, 40-year old Shahi Badan, 30-year-old Qari Saeed, 30-year-old Tahira Bibi, and others. Some of the dead were unidentified.
Pakistan Times:
The eyewitnesses told Geo news that coalition airplanes allegedly flying over the areas since last four days and sound of planes also heard when the explosions occurred.

They suspected of missile strikes or bombardment by these fighter planes have hit the area and caused losses. The witnesses added that the explosions have killed at least 10 people whereas a house of local tribesman Gul Zaman was completely destroyed.
Also posted at The Jawa Report.