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73 Dead After Red Mosque Operation
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73 bodies were recovered on Wednesday from within the Lal Masjid mosque complex after the fighting subsided, the military said. Meanwhile, Pakistan Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz said that operations against militants inside the mosque had ended successfully.
Military spokesman Maj. Gen. Waheed Arshad further briefed the press and revealed that 10 commandos had been killed and 33 injured during the major firefight lasting one and a half days in Islamabad. He added that all the retrieved bodies had been given to civil authorities for identification.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz spoke to foreign reporters and said that casualties during the operation had been less than expected, with no bodies of women or children being found so far.

Aziz also invited journalists to tour the mosque after it was fully secured.

He also disclosed that last-minute negotiations with the mosque leaders had broken down on July 10 when deputy chief of the mosque Maulana Abdul Rashid Ghazi set safe passage for his "foreign friends" as a deal-breaker.

"The government made it clear that every one will have to go through the law and if identified as militants the law would take its course," he said, adding that the operation was launched immediately after the talks collapsed.

Heavy security was still in place around the compound with reporters kept back but a curfew in the neighborhood was temporarily lifted on Wednesday afternoon, a tentative sign that things may soon return to normal.

(Xinhua News Agency, China Daily via agencies July 12, 2007)

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