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Dozens arrested in Pak seminary raid

world Updated: Jul 07, 2007 16:06 IST
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Pakistani police on Saturday arrested dozens of Islamic students in a pre-dawn raid on a seminary affiliated with the besieged Lal Masjid where holed up militants have said they would seek martyrdom rather than surrender, official said.

"Some fifty students of Jamia Faridia have been taken into custody in an advanced movement in the wake of the Lal Majid standoff," Zafar Iqbal, senior police superintendent, told Deutsche Presse-Agentur.

Jamia Faridia, a male seminary, is located in Islamabad's posh E-7 neighbourhood, some four km from the red mosque complex where hundreds of rebellious students have been holed up for the last five days.

"Jamia Faridia is in our total control, and we did not face any resistance from the students," Iqbal said.

The seminary was recently abandoned by more than 2,500 students after security forces with heavy military presence laid siege to the fortified compound of the Lal Masjid early on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, fighting between militants and security forces continued till early Saturday at the Lal Masjid and several blasts were heard.

Paramilitary forces fired several mortar shells into the seminary, where strong resistance was being offered by around several hundred warriors, many believed to be trained by Al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters.

Authorities feared a backlash from Islamic students of several madrassas - religious schools - overseen by the two radical clerics of the Lal Masjid, Abdul Rashid Ghazi and Abdul Aziz.

Security forces arrested Aziz on Wednesday night as he tried to escape in the guise of a burqa-clad woman, while Ghazi along with his hardcore supporters is still offering stiff resistance inside the mosque.