Bodies everywhere inside Pakistan mosque
PAKISTAN: Dead bodies are â€śeverywhereâ€ť inside a radical
Pakistani mosque raided by troops on Tuesday, a source inside the
complex told AFP by telephone.
A man who picked up one of top mosque cleric Abdul Rashid Ghaziâ€™s
mobile phones said those inside were under â€śmassive bombing and gunfire.
This is indiscriminate killing.â€ť
â€śThere is no contact with each other because no one can leave the
rooms and basements. There are dead bodies everywhere,â€ť the witness
added, declining to give his name as explosions and gunfire echoed in
One of those killed was Ghaziâ€™s own elderly mother, who died of
suffocation from smoke caused by blasts, while Ghazi was still alive,
the source added.
Earlier around 50 suspected militants surrendered to government
forces Tuesday during a break in fighting at the mosque, a military
â€śFifty militants have surrendered to troops after they were given a
last chance to give themselves up,â€ť the official said on condition of
Earlier 20 children escaped from the Red Mosque in Islamabad when the
soldiers launched the operation against the militants at daybreak. The
government says there are hundreds of women and children still inside.
Pakistani troops launched a huge operation against militants holed up
in the Islamabad mosque after negotiations to free women and children
failed, leaving 20 rebels and three troops dead.
Massive blasts and intense gunfire rocked the pro-Taliban Red Mosque,
where the government alleges that hundreds of people have been held as
human shields for eight days. Plumes of black smoke rose above the
â€śIt is a final push to clear the mosque of armed militants,â€ť military
spokesman Major General Waheed Arshad told AFP.
The military said troops had entered the building from three sides
and were backed by armoured personnel carriers. The government has said
around 100 militants were inside the compound along with 300-400 women
A girlsâ€™ religious school adjoining the mosque caught fire.
Arshad said he had â€śno informationâ€ť about the fate of Abdul Rashi
Ghazi, the firebrand cleric leading the militants.
â€śThe militants are using small arms and grenades. They are in the
basement, we have covered the rooftop,â€ť he said.
Television footage showed a wounded soldier screaming for his friend
as he was stretchered into a local hospital from an ambulance. President
Pervez Musharraf authorised the storming of the mosque after an
eight-day siege which had itself cost 24 lives.
Ghazi, 43, telephoned a private television channel after the raid
began to say that his elderly mother was wounded in the clashes.
â€śI question whether the government ever intended to resolve the
crisis. These people want nothing but genocide,â€ť Ghazi said. â€śThey kept
on changing their demands.â€ť
Authorities made announcements on loudspeakers urging residents in
the surrounding area to stay inside for their safety.
Ministers have accused cleric Ghazi and his followers, who are said
to include foreign fighters and Pakistani insurgents linked to Al-Qaeda,
of holding women and children in the Red Mosque as hostages.
More than 1,200 male and female students fled the mosque earlier in
the standoff but almost none have left in recent days.
Ghazi says all those inside are there of their own free will.
Minutes before the raid top government negotiator Chaudhry Shujaat
Hussain, a former Pakistani premier, announced the failure of talks with
â€śAfter 11 hours of negotiations we are deeply disappointed that the
talks did not succeed,â€ť he told a news conference near the Red Mosque.
â€śWe are returning in disappointment.â€ť
Tensions at the mosque began several months ago when its students
launched an anti-vice campaign in a quest to enforce Islamic law
They also kidnapped several people, accused of involvement in
prostitution, including seven Chinese, who were later freed.
Bitter street battles broke out on July 3 between police and the
mosqueâ€™s radical students, and it has been surrounded under a 24-hour
shoot-on-sight curfew ever since.