Tuesday 31 October 2006
"They were all militants using weapons doing military training within the compound."
Almost 10,000 Pakistanis attended protests held in Khar, the main town in the northwestern tribal Bajaur district, where military helicopters fired five missiles into an Islamic religious school, known as a madrasa, on Monday.
As loudspeakers broadcast songs in the local Pashto language, protesters gathered in a field to denounce what they described as an attack that killed innocent students and teachers.
Addressing the rally, Maulana Roohul Amin, a local Islamic cleric, said: "We will continue our jihad. We will take revenge for the blood of our martyrs. "The infidels are trying to erase us from existence."
Scores of pro-government tribal police were deployed throughout Bajaur, blocking roads with large rocks in an attempt to prevent political activists and journalists reaching Khar and Chingai, a local government official said.
Many local politicians and regional cabinet ministers have resigned in protest over the attack.
Ali Dayan Hasan, a representative for Human Rights Watch, accused Pakistani authorities of "persistent use of excessive and disproportionate force in pursuing counter-terror operations".
The planned signing of a peace deal between tribal leaders and the military was cancelled in response to the air strike.
The attack led to claims of
Among those killed was Liaqat Hussain, a fugitive cleric who ran the attacked madrasa.
The raid was carried out after Hussain rejected government warnings to stop using the school as a training camp for fighters heading to
Faqir Mohammed, who