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58 Dead As Pakistani Troops Storm Red Mosque

From those defenders of the faith at Reuters:

Pakistani troops storm mosque

By Zeeshan Haider

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – Pakistani forces stormed a mosque compound on Tuesday, killing about 50 militants, as they fought their way through an Islamic school where they believed a rebel cleric was hiding with women and children hostages.

Militants mounted a last stand in the basements of the madrasa, and military spokesman Major-General Waheed Arshad said cleric Abdul Rashid Ghazi had barricaded himself in.

Eight soldiers were killed and 29 wounded in the assault to end a week-long standoff at Lal Masjid, or Red Mosque, Arshad said. Fifty militants were captured or surrendered.

“Operation Silence” started at 4 a.m. with a barrage of explosions and sustained gunfire, and was still in progress more than 12 hours later.

“Ghazi’s location has been identified. He is in a basement on the southern side of the madrasa. He has been asked four times to surrender but he has not done so,” a security official said.

There were more than 70 rooms and the basements in the sprawling mosque-school complex, and the militants were armed with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades, Arshad said.

“Militants are taking positions in almost every room, they’re fighting from room to room, they have positions in the basement, on the stairs,” he said.

With more than two-thirds of the mosque-school complex secured, some 30 children and 24 women had managed to get out. It was unclear how many more women and children remained inside but earlier officials had said hundreds could be there.

Many of the women had been among the cleric’s most fervent supporters. Six of the children said they had been kept in the basement of the mosque but fled when their guards disappeared after commandos overran it, Arshad said.

By early afternoon, loud blasts still rocked the heart of Islamabad and militants had resumed firing from the mosque’s minarets, Arshad said.

Commandos backed by paramilitary troops first seized the mosque then swept resistance from the rooftop of the madrasa and worked their way down through the building.

There were fears the militants might resort to suicide bombs. Officials said on Monday militants had distributed vests packed with explosives

The action against the mosque has raised fears of a militant backlash. A wanted Pakistani militant vowed revenge on Monday if the mosque were assaulted.

About 300 protesters angry about the assault torched tented offices of Western aid agencies in Battagram, a town in North West Frontier Province damaged by a 2005 earthquake

These people are simply insane.

About 300 protesters angry about the assault torched tented offices of Western aid agencies in Battagram, a town in North West Frontier Province damaged by a 2005 earthquake.

And such miserable ingrates.

This article was posted by Steve on Tuesday, July 10th, 2007. Comments are currently closed.

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