21 dead in Pak mosque standoff, Govt spurns negotiations
Pakistan Govt spurns attempts by radical clerics of the Lal Masjid for negotiations and demands their surrender.Updated: Jul 04, 2007 16:04 IST
Pakistan government spurned attempts by radical clerics of the Lal Masjid in Islamabad to work out a negotiated settlement and asked them to surrender along with weapons as the number of persons dead in the standoff between security forces and militant mosque students climbed to 21.
Sporadic firing which continued throughout the night and this morning resulted in the death toll mounting to 21, local channel Aaj TV quoted hospital sources as saying. Over 150 people have been injured.
Meanwhile, the government showed little inclination to attempts by Lal Masjid clerics to work out a negotiated settlement for a conditional surrender through Islamic scholars.
In a stern action, the government arrested member of senate of the Islamist alliance Muthahida Majlis Amal (MMA) Mian Aslam this morning under maintenance of public order (MPO) for his repeated attempts to arrange a negotiated settlement with clerics to end the stand off.
There was no favourable response from Pakistan Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz to MMA General Secretary Fazlur Rehman's attempts to arrange a conditional surrender of the clerics.
Earlier, administrator of the mosque, Abdul Rashid Ghazi said he was willing to cooperate with Rehman to end the stand off and even hinted that they would consider giving up before a counsel of Islamic clerics under certain conditions.
Rehman quoted Aziz as saying that "the orders for action against Lal Masid management have been issued and the reversal is quite difficult.