Troops stormed the compound of Islamabad's Lal Masjid Mosque, or
Red Mosque at dawn Tuesday, prompting a fierce firefight with
militants accused of holding scores of hostages, officials said. 25
militants were arrested by Pakistani military during operation.
Some 40 militants were killed during the operation on the Lal
Masjid mosque, said military spokesman Major-General Waheed
Arshadhere at a press conference.
Three elite force soldiers were killed and 15 others wounded in
the operation, he added.
To a question, Arshad said that he did not know the fate of
Maulana Abdul Rasheed Ghazi, deputy chief of the Lal Masjid
administration, who and a group of militants are now holed up in
the basement of the mosque.
The military spokesman said that the troops used all kinds of
weapons in the operation and the militants used rocket launchers,
hand grenades and machine guns in resistance.
Arshad said he did not know when the operation would end and he had
no idea how many militants or students were now in the mosque.
Meanwhile, Ghazi claimed that they had only 14 AK-47s.
The military launched the Operation Silence at 4 AM local time
(01:00 GMT) Tuesday minutes after a delegation led by a former
prime minister left the area declaring that efforts to negotiate a
peaceful end to a week-old seige had failed.
(Xinhua News Agency, China Daily via
agencies July 10, 2007)