Chunks of concrete are missing from the mosque's minarets.
Madrassa walls painted with Islamic verses are now peppered with
bullet holes. Black flies swarm over a rebel bunker, blasted apart
under a stairwell.
A day after commandos completed a 35-hour assault that left at
least 85 dead, the army guided media around the shattered masonry
and blackened interiors of Islamabad's Red Mosque complex yesterday
amid lingering questions over how many civilians were killed.
The military hoped to ease public skepticism and demonstrate how
heavily armed militants had turned one of the city's most prominent
holy sites into a fortress.
After opening the army's tangled barbed wire cordons around the
sprawling complex for the first time, soldiers escorted reporters
through the bent-back metal gates of the Jamia Hafsa, a girl's
religious school next door to the mosque.
There was clear sign of the fierce room-to-room fighting. Inside
and out, the concrete and white plaster walls were riddled by
gunshot from commandos who breached the southern walls of the
four-story building and traded fire with its defenders.
Militants appeared to have prepared firing positions, some on
the exterior fortified with sand bags. But the stiffest resistance
came from basement rooms where the Red Mosque's pro-Taliban cleric,
Abdul Rashid Ghazi, was shot dead after refusing to surrender.
Ghazi, who had spearheaded a vigilante, anti-vice campaign in
the capital, was buried in his home village in Punjab province
yesterday. During a funeral speech his captured brother - the
mosque's chief cleric - called for an Islamic revolution in
The army says it has so far recovered 75 bodies from inside the
complex. Officials maintain that none appear to be women or
children, but concede 19 bodies were burned beyond recognition.
Citizens and media have questioned the government's claim that
virtually all noncombatants escaped harm during the savage
Qazi Hussain Ahmed, chief of Pakistan's biggest Islamic party,
Jamaat-e-Islami, alleged yesterday between 400 and 1,000 students
and their teachers had died in the army operation - but offered no
Thousands of girls and women aged from 4 into early 20s used to
study Quran at the school, and the government says about 1,300
people in all fled unharmed during the eight-day standoff that
began July 3 after street fighting broke out between security
forces and militants.
Giving a guided tour, army spokesman Major General Waheed Arshad
pointed inside a small, charred, windowless room where he claimed a
suicide bomber with five or six hostages inside had blown himself
up during the assault. He said the victims' corpses were charred
Arshad said a second suicide bomber had detonated himself in the
white-domed mosque - one of the most famous in the Pakistani
capital - which is located at the opposite side of the complex to
Soldiers, who are still searching the complex for bodies and
land mines, have recovered two other suicide vests - one from the
body of a fighter, he said. The other was among an arsenal of the
militants' weaponry and equipment that the army put on display.
Also on show were three crates of petrol bombs fashioned from
green Sprite bottles, gas masks, machine guns, rocket-propelled
grenades, recoilless rifles, dozens of AK-47s, pistols and two-way
radios. Large plastic buckets held tennis-ball-size homemade bombs
(China Daily via agencies July 13, 2007)