Curfew imposed around Lal Masjid after riots
Authorities impose curfew around a mosque in the centre of Islamabad, after day-long religious battles left 11 people dead and 150 injured.world Updated: Jul 04, 2007 09:44 IST
Authorities have imposed curfew around a mosque in the centre of Islamabad, after day-long religious battles left 11 people dead and about 150 injured.
Junior Interior Minister Zafar Iqbal Warraich announced at a late-night press conference that the militants holed up in the Lal Masjid (red mosque) should surrender peacefully or face a military operation to root them out.
The Pakistani Army has been called in to assist police and paramilitary forces already deployed around the fortified mosque and have orders to shoot to kill anyone coming out of the mosque bearing arms.
Warraich said that a crisis meeting led by President Pervez Musharraf decided on the operation as the activities of the radical Islamists controlling the mosque were bringing a bad name to Pakistan and Islam.
The Lal Masjid has been increasingly challenging the writ of the government since students of its seminary for women seized a government-run children's library in January to push the Islamists' demand for enforcement of Shariah in Pakistan.
The tussle came to a head late last month, when the boys and girls of the madrasahs (religious schools) attached to the mosque and temporarily took hostage seven Chinese workers of massage parlour in a campaign to eradicate "immoral activities" in Islamabad.
Tuesday's bloody clashes were ignited when female students attached to the mosque seized weapons of some policemen who resisted their attempt to remove barbed wire strung outside the mosque.
In the ensuing battles, at least 11 people were slain including two paramilitary troops and one press photographer.