The Mosque of the Red Death

red-mosque-aftermath.jpgThe bodies (all male) in the mosque total 73, [Editor: final official tally is now 102, which includes Pakistan SSG and Miltitary deaths.]and according to authorities there are no female bodies. The troops are clearing the booby-traps and mines, and will allow the press in for the tour and retelling of the battle soon. [editor update on casualties– there are also 12-24 “unidentifiable bodies” from two rooms, blown to pieces from suicide vests.]

From the Daily Times:

Security forces collected 73 bodies of militants as they cleared Lal Masjid and Jamia Hafsa of mines and booby traps on Wednesday after flushing out or killing all the militants holed up inside.

Special forces stormed the mosque at 4:30am on Tuesday and finished the first phase – clearing the compound of militants – by noon on Wednesday, while the second phase – sweeping the complex for unexploded ordnance and booby traps and collecting bodies – was still underway, Major General Arshad Waheed, director general of ISPR, told reporters in the afternoon.

He said later in the day as the cleanup operation was almost complete that 73 bodies had been collected, and none of them were of women.

I would say that this is probably under the mark, some estimates have the count as high as 250, but that’s probably a great exageration. Everyone will try to politicize this, and in a couple weeks some people will be saying 2,500 instead of 250.

More from Shaukat Aziz here. and it appears the army’s prepared to make the campout in Swat as permanent as need be.

This is really a first in Pakistan, and unlike other countries with militant chapters the Army knows to go to the source — they will not make the people or the followers pay, it will be the mullahs who dance with the devil if there is trouble. I find that a very sound policy.

Zahoor also has a good political cartoon up tonight.

From the articles it appears that if there is going to be any disruption it’s likely to happen Friday, we will see if the mullahs are paying attention, or if they intend to whip their followers to frenzy at Friday prayers.

Meanwhile, the opposition press in the Frontier is reporting 500 bodies, women among them, which is not likely and represents irresponsible journalism.

It is also obvious that some tribes, such as the Whazi Khel in NWFP, are still honoring the peace Jirga, this report tells of two deaths as a Chagha party rescued a kidnapped captain and a cadet; four militants also were killed:

The Wozi Khel tribe of North Waziristan Agency has recovered Captain Faisal Islam, Adjutant Cadet College Razmak, who was kidnapped on Friday morning in the Razmak sub division of North Waziristan Agency when he was coming from Razmak towards Bannu.
Immediate after the incident, the respective tribe constituted the traditional “CHAGHA” party that chased the kidnappers.
As a result of cross firing between the kidnappers and the tribesmen, all the four kidnappers, who were criminal, were killed whereas two tribesmen of the Chaga party also lost their life. Four persons including the kidnapped Captain Faisal Islam and the tribesmen Jan Faraz, Mehraban and Hukam sustained injuries and had been admitted to the hospital.

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