10 July 2007

About 50 killed in Islamabad mosque raid

Abdul Rashid Ghazi, a cleric at Islamabad's Lal Masjid (Red Mosque), has been killed by Pakistani army troops in a crossfire with militants holed up in the mosque, according to Javed Iqbal Cheema, a Pakistan Interior Ministry spokesman. About 50 militant supporters of the mosque were killed in the fighting, and the head imam, Maulana Abdul Aziz, was arrested as he tried to flee the mosque disguised as a woman on 4 July.

About 50 women and children were removed from the mosque by the soldiers.

An additional 70 militants either surrendered to Pakistani forces, or were captured by them.

The standoff between the Pakistani government and the mosque, which had lasted for several months, escalated when supporters of the mosque kidnapped seven Chinese people who, according to Lal Masjid clerics, had been running a brothel (BBC).

This seemingly brings to a sad end the story of the Lal Masjid's defiance of the authorities in Islamabad, which Notes on Religion reported on several times previously. I argued before that Musharraf ought to do something about the mosque, but it is troubling that it came to a bloodbath of this sort.

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