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Top militant commander inside Pak Lal Masjid: report

world Updated: Jul 10, 2007 16:14 IST

PTI
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A top Islamist militant commander with extensive fighting experience in Afghanistan has based himself with 40 fighters inside the radical Lal Masjid where at least 21 people have been killed in gunbattles between madrassa students and security forces.

The unnamed commander belonging to Mehsud tribe and having vast fighting experience in the restive Afghanistan has managed to enter Jamia Hafsa with a group of 40 fighters to support the students of Lal Masjid against the government, a source privy to the masjid said.

The jihadis who entered the masjid are well-equipped and well trained for situation like this, the source was quoted as saying by The Post.

One of the brothers of a Member of National Assembly from Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) is also accompanying the commander to strengthen the hands of radical students.

The Lal Masjid administration would be in a better position to take on the security forces after putting the girl students holed up inside the madrassa in safe locations, sources said.

Meanwhile, the government deployed the army and imposed curfew around the Lal Masjid early today asking the clerics and militant students of the mosque to surrender along with their weapons.

"The curfew has been imposed. Those who surrender will not be harmed. If anybody comes out with arms, he will face bullets," Minister of State for Interior Zaffar Iqbal Warraich said announcing the decision of a high-level meeting presided over by President Pervez Musharraf.