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'Nine Most Wanted in Lal Masjid'
Top commando dies in latest operation, one injured
Zohaib Zafar (zohaib)     Print Article 
Published 2007-07-09 11:14 (KST)   
This story was only lightly edited.  <Editor's Note>

Nine most wanted militants are present in Lal Masjid or Red Mosque who had taken children and female students of Jamia Hafsa hostage, according to Pakistan셲 Religious Affairs Minister Ejaz-ul-Haq.

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Security forces feared that there were foreign militants inside Lal Masjid who had links with Al Qaeda. According to officials, some foreign militants were barricaded in the building, along with local militants from a group linked to the beheading of U.S. journalist Daniel Pearl and attempts to kill President Pervez Musharraf.

Security officials said militants from the banned Pakistani group Harkatul-Jihad-e-Islami were now in command there, putting up resistance and not allowing the surrender.

The religious affairs minister told journalists in a press conference that all female students who had come out from the Lal Masjid had been sent back to their homes other than those three who were still being interrogated.

Haq also said that no action would be taken against Jamia Faridia and all other madaris functioning under the law. "Madaris are playing the role of the NGOs," he said.

The minister said that Pakistan's Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz took Ulema into confidence on Lal Masjid operation during his meeting with them. About Ulema's entry into Lal Masjid, he said government had sought their guarantee that the Lal Masjid administration would allow them to return back on which they refused to enter the mosque premises.

The minister feared that the militants might start slaying children and female students inside the seminary. "Our fear is that they may start killing the women and children to press for their demand for safe passage," Haq said, adding that 200 to 500 students were present inside the mosque premises.

On the Lal Masjid operation, he said that the government showed restraint and patience for six months and respected the seminary and mosque.

On the other hand, the chief cleric of the Lal Masjid, Ghazi Abdul Aziz, who tried to flee the besieged mosque in a veil, has revealed the name some politicians and traders who used to fund them.

Apart from this, security forces moved closer and tightened the noose around the mosque after a commando of Special Services Group (SSG) died in an operation to blast through the wall in the mosque premises to allow the children and women to escape. Another SSG commando was injured critically.

It is expected that Pakistani troops can launch another raid on the mosque at anytime.
©2007 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Zohaib Zafar

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