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Troops Storm Red Mosque, 25 Militants Arrested
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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)

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