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Pak rejects surrender demand of radicals

world Updated: Jul 10, 2007 16:11 IST
KJM Varma

Loud explosions and gunfire rocked the Lal Masjid in Islamabad on Friday as the Pakistan government rejected all conditions for surrender, put forward by radical cleric Abdul Rashid Ghazi, holed up inside the besieged mosque, including the demand for a safe passage of the kind provided by India to Pakistani militants during Kargil war.

The bloody stand-off between security forces and the militants, headed by Ghazi, entered the fourth day on Friday as government spurned all kinds of demands by Ghazi, including a Kargil type safe passage provided by India to Pakistani militants during the war.

Ghazi, who was being deserted by droves of "militant students" around him who were surrendering to troops waiting outside, made several offers to give up.

The cleric said he feared that the government would start victimisation and that was why he wanted a safe passage. He said he was not demanding anything unprecedented.

"India had given a safe passage to Mujahideen to save innocent lives," he said.

In return for the safe passage, he offered to give up claims on the Masjid and the two madrasas controlled by them.

A government spokesman, however, rejected any safe passage to him and his companions.

"Ghazi was involved in different cases and he could not be allowed to go," Retd Brig Javed Iqbal Cheema told the media late last night.

Meanwhile, heavy gunfire and blasts erupted again at the mosque in Pakistani capital early on Friday as armoured personnel carriers moved near the building.