While Abdul Aziz Ghazi was captured, his brother remains inside the mosque with a band of hardliners. Earlier 8 explosions were heard in the area, and then calls to surrender. Now it appears that rockets or artillery are in action against the hold-outs who wouldn’t surrender (1200+ students have left, and most of the young children are now out.) Unconfirmed rumors, and some government reports state that there are Jaimsh-e-Muhammed terrorists inside, and the rumors are that a commander from Mehsud’s Taliban is in the mosque. Neither is confirmed however.
UPDATE: People who surrendered say that Rashid is keeping 25 female students hostage surrounding him in the basement; so both brothers hide behind the burqa. Story here.
This report appeared a bit ago at Metroblogging Islamabad:
At about 4am the operation against lal masjid has taken place. Heavy firing and bomb shelling has surrounded the environment. The walls of Lal Masjid are damaged and police is trying to enter into the mosque. Announcements have been made on loudspeaker, by the military men, demanding the surrender of remaining persons inside; otherwise they will face the consequences. Many students are still surrendering.
There is an outbreak of light. The residents of G-6 are horrified and came out of their houses after hearing heavy shelling.
Here’s the Reuters story, they are running a bit behind Metroblogging however.
Update: Estimates are that there are aproximately 850 students still inside along with 14 armed terrorists, and Abdul Aziz’s brother, Abdul Rahid. The government is trying to wear them down, they blasted down the walls so APC’s could get close.
Reports are that some students are still straggling out to surrender, and it’s still a tense stand-off as the government waits the extremists out. This from ABC news.
Some psychological techniques are being applied with random explosions and flares going off through the night hours. The situation remains grim, but every now and then there are moments of humor, like the mullah, now dubbed “Aunty Aziz” who tried to make a cowardly escape in a burqa, like the interview with him after that where he demonstrated how he put on the veil. There’s also this comment from one of the blogs as the Pakistanis are following the news on this closely, watching TV on it every moment they get:
So much has unfolded in the past two days… for starters we as Pakistanis can now relate to the American obsession over the OJ Simsons car escape and its live coverage.
Metroblogging has much more up, Abdul Rashid is still negotiating, but I do not think we will see charges dropped. Interior Minister Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao states that the students have hand grenades, and petrol bombs, and that the death toll since the start holds at 19 here.
From Metroblogging & The International News:
The deputy head of Lal Mosque Maulana Abdul Rasheed Ghazi has dramatically announced to surrender along with all the students including females amid the full-fledged “silence operation”, which was launched by forces at Lal mosque and Jamia Hafsa.
“ I am ready to surrender along with all the students including females, we are ready to handover Lal mosque to Auqaf department and Jamia Faraidia will be handed over to the Wafaq-ul-Madaris, Mr. Ghazi said while taking to Geo News in an exclusive telephonic talk.
However, he said all the cases lodged against him were fake cases.
Nobody fakes 19 dead persons, Rashid seems to think this is all a game, and he while he milks the publicity people are in mourning for their deceased loved ones.