Lal Masjid Update: this could spell deep and lasting trouble for the Musharraf regime, and could ultimately become a rallying point for the forces advocating Sharia in Pakistan.
“Pakistan military assault on mosque continues; at least 58 dead UPDATE,” from Thomson Financial:
ISLAMABAD,Pakistan (Thomson Financial) – Pakistani troops continued their assault on a pro-Taliban mosque in the heart of Islamabad today, sparking fierce gunbattles which left at least 58 people dead.
After nine hours of heavy fighting, the mosque’s main cleric was barricaded in the basement with some women and children, the army said. Militants armed with rocket launchers and machineguns were firing at troops from the minarets.
The military confirmed that it has rescued 27 women and three children, including the wife and daughter of mosque chief Abdul Aziz.
‘We rescued them from the militants. There are three children with them. They were taken hostage by the militants but the troops managed to get them out,’ chief military spokesman Major General Waheed Arshad told reporters.
Earlier several women in burqas and around 30 children escaped from the fortified mosque when the dawn attack began but hundreds are understood to still be inside as soldiers went through the compound’s 75 rooms one at a time, facing bitter resistance.
Arshad said around 50 militants and eight soldiers were confirmed dead and at least 15 soldiers were wounded.
Fifty militants surrendered after they were given a final chance during a break in fighting.