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Red Mosque Cleric Nabbed In Burka, Heels

From those defenders of the faith at the Associated Press:

Pakistani cleric captured under burqa

By MUNIR AHMED, Associated Press Writer

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – Security forces besieging a radical mosque in the Pakistani capital captured its top cleric Wednesday as he tried to sneak out of the complex in a woman’s burqa, and more than 1,000 of his followers surrendered.

But heavy gunfire raged into the night, and it was unclear if his capture would lead other hard-liners to give up the fight at the mosque…

The peaceful arrest of the mosque’s prayer leader, Maulana Abdul Aziz, was a coup for the government. The firebrand Aziz has been a vociferous opponent of Musharraf and threatened suicide attacks to defend the mosque. His thousands of male students have been at the forefront of anti-government and anti-U.S. rallies.

Tensions exploded into a daylong battle Tuesday between security forces and militant students, some heavily armed and masked. Officials said 16 people died, including militants, security officers and bystanders. Mosque leaders put the death toll among just students at 20.

The government ordered the militants to lay down their arms and surrender by Wednesday morning as it positioned armored vehicles and helicopters around the mosque in a show of strength.

A security official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to journalists, said Aziz was captured when he tried to get away disguised as a woman, wearing a full-length black burqa, and a female police officer tried to search him.

The officer began shouting “This is not a woman,” the official said, prompting male officers to seize Aziz. “The suspect later turned out to be the mosque’s chief cleric,” the official said.

An AP Television News cameraman saw plainclothes police bundling the gray-bearded cleric into the back of a car, which sped away…

Cheema said at least 1,100 people surrendered during the day, with some of the women in tears. All women and children will be granted amnesty, but males involved in killings and the top mosque leaders will face legal action, Deputy Information Minister Tariq Azim said.

Cheema claimed that “not many more” people were left inside the mosque complex.

One who decided to give up, 15-year-old Maryam Qayyeum, said those who stayed in the seminary “only want martyrdom.”

“They are happy,” she said. “They don’t want to go home.” …

How perfectly typical.


From the Associated Press:

Mosque leader foresees end of siege

By MUNIR AHMAD, Associated Press Writer

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – A radical cleric arrested while fleeing his government-besieged mosque in a woman’s burqa and high heels said Thursday that the nearly 1,000 followers still inside should flee or surrender…

Oh, my sides.

This article was posted by Steve on Wednesday, July 4th, 2007. Comments are currently closed.

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