Pakistan’s government has declared a curfew in residential areas around Islamabad’s Lal Masjid (red mosque) and that it will be launching an operation against the terrorists [Editor: most press agencies are calling them “militant students”, but they are dyed-in-the-wool terrorists supporting extreme shariat, use of force, terror, and coercion against civilians. Suicide bombers, white headbands, Kalashnikovs, shooting police, kidnapping, burning shops… they are terrorists.]
UPDATE FROM Dawn:
There are reports that the in-charge of Lal Masjid, Maulana Abdul Aziz, and his younger brother Maulana Abdul Rashid Ghazi had gone underground before the clash started.
Of course these rats would hide and leave their brainwashed students to die. It’s never the mullahs who strap on the vests after all, they just collect the bounties, the land, and the money.
UPDATE: From Metroblogging Islamabad:
Time till 3:30 given for further ACTION.
Almost half an hour to go (time of IMB is One hour ahead than local PST, BTW)
-A For [Pine]Apple
Sporadic fire from both sides. Ambulances, fire brigades, Armored Personnel Carriers (APCs), and sand bags in position!
Heavy casualties expected. Ambulances reportedly fully stocked with first aid and other life saving medical equipment.
Helicopters can be heard in Islamabad’s air. Tanks moving around the Blue Area road.
And lal masjid’s site is no longer blocked ( they’ve got new web designers :-))
The vehicles shown in various footages on TV are not of Tanks, but are Army Personnel Carriers (Troop carriers). War Hymns were heard blown from Lal Masjid few minutes back, before Azaan e Fajr.
Update from comments section tagged 7:12 am from Farhan:
The situation is still the same as it was before. Maulana Fazl ur Rehman just told Aaj TV that they’re trying to make Jami’ah people surrender their arms before Maulanas from Wafaq ul Madaris. The bone of contention as of now is Rasheed Ghazi’s demand to continue having the control of the madrassah even after the surrender of weapons while the Gov. has demanded them to hand over the control of the place to them. [Editor: Wafaq ul Madaris is the governing council for all Deoband mosques, or all mosques, not certain which, in Pakistan]
Since this, things have settled into uneasy stalemate, more barbed wire strung, negotiations continue.
UPDATE: Here’s a report from a CNN reporter who doesn’t have a clue who got caught in the action during the first incident. As you read, note how she romanticizes the students and paints them as pure idealists, never mentioning the threats of suicide bombers throughout Islamabad, never mentioning the Jaimsh-e-Muhammed terrorists inside, never mentioning the kidnapped police, never mentioning the Fatwah against Nilofer Bhaktiar, never mentioning the Death Fatwah against the entire staff of Octane magazine.
UPDATE: Daily times has a good chronology here, the only thing they left out was the Fatwah against Octane magazine.
UPDATE: Latest from Reuters, three pages, lots of detail.
Speaking after Musharraf met top security officials, Warraich said warnings would be broadcast over loudspeakers for students to lay down their weapons and surrender.
No action would be taken against those who did but anyone who tried to fight would be shot, he said.
“A bullet will be responded with by a bullet,” he said.
UPDATE: Karachi also under high alert, from Daily Times:
The already intense security in Karachi’s vulnerable green zone near the US Consulate and five-star hotels in the centre of the city has been tightened following clashes between Islamabad’s radical Lal Masjid students and police. Madrassas in Karachi were already being watched by the police but according to sources, the security forces have started compiling a list of religious extremists as well. The areas under focus are SITE, Banaras, Patel Para and Shah Faisal Colony among others. “The police has been put on alert and we are ready to face any terrorism in Sindh, especially Karachi,” said CID DIG Mushtaq Shah. “No arrests have been conducted yet.” The Pakistan Rangers help has also been enlisted “We are working in collaboration with the police and will support them if conditions worsen,” said spokesman Major Asad Ali.
UPDATE: Stop by Lawhawk’s place, he has documentary video on the past of the mosque up.
UPDATE: Qutbist extreme Shariat spreading? From Karachi.
Pakistan said Wednesday it is imposing a curfew in residential areas around Islamabad’s Red Mosque and launching an operation against militant students holed up there. The announcement came as at least nine people were reportedly killed by gunfire during clashes with students at the mosque run by a Taliban-style movement in the capital Tuesday.
Reuters news agency, quoting Pakistani officials, reported that sporadic fire between paramilitary forces and militant students inside the Lal Masjid, or Red Mosque, rang out for hours.
Reuters, saying at least nine people were killed, reported that four of the dead were students, one a soldier and another a cameraman. Another three appeared to be people caught in the crossfire.
As many as 148 people had been admitted to hospitals, some with bullet wounds, but most suffering from the effects of tear gas, the report said.
The mosque’s electricity and other utilities were cut off Tuesday evening, apparently to force out the besieged students, who fought a pitched battle with security forces Tuesday. Deputy Interior Minister Zafar Iqbal Warraich told a press conference shortly after midnight that the decision to impose the curfew and dislodge the students from the mosque was made at a high-level security meeting co-chaired by President Gen. Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz.
“The government has decided to act against those people who are bringing Pakistan and Islam into disrepute,” Warraich said.