Cleric Ghazi, Scores Killed:
Islamabad Red Mosque Operation in Decisive Phase
Malik ‘Pakistan Times’ Federal Bureau Chief
ISLAMABAD: With the death of the deputy chief
of Islamabad’s Lal [Red] mosque Abdul Rasheed Ghazi, the operation silence
has entered into a decisive phase as the troops fought daylong gun battles
with the militants holed up in the mosque complex leaving scores dead in the
operation on Tuesday.
The on- going Operation Clean up in the Mosque Complex would continue
throughout night Tuesday and may terminate after the dawn today, Wednesday,
said Director General ISPR Major General Arshad Waheed.
Giving update on the situation to media on Tuesday, he said that the
southern part of the seminary had been cleared while the security forces are
presently engaged in clearing up the area where the residential
accommodation of Ghazi Abdul Rashid existed.
Spokesman of Ministry of Interior Brig (Retd) Javed Iqbal Cheema and
Principal Information Officer Ch. Rashid Ahmed were present on the occasion.
Major Gen. Arshad Waheed said, the reports gathered from the scene have
revealed that the figure of dead inside the complex would be higher than 50,
however the confirm figure of dead and injured could only be given once the
operation is over.
Meanwhile, he said so far eight personnel of security forces have embraced
shahadat while 29 others sustained injuries during the day long intense
Gen. Arshad Waheed said the level of retaliation from inside the complex was
so intense and heavy that one could presume about the presence of the hard
Answering a question about the presence of foreign militants in the complex,
he said, “this could only be confirmed after the operation is over and
bodies and injured are removed from the scene.
He confirmed that the deputy cleric of Lal Mosque Ghazi Abdul Rashid has
been killed during cross fire between the occupying militants of the
seminary and the security forces.
He said the security forces during the clean up had confirmed the news.
Director General ISPR Major General Waheed Arshad Tuesday denied use of
nerve gas during the Operation Silence at the Jamia Hafsa Complex.
He said the security forces were using only ‘stun grenades’ and light
weapons during the operation.
He denied use of any heavy weapons including mortars and said the ‘stun
grenades’ were being used to shock the militants holed up in the huge
three-storey complex with over 75 rooms.
He said it was huge “haphazardly constructed” complex with numerous well
fortified rooms from where they fought the security forces.
“They are very well armed, very well trained and well equipped and gave a
tough resistance,” he said.
Director General ISPR said there was no confirmation yet about the presence
of foreign militants at the Jamia Hafsa Complex.
General Arshad said “it is too early to say anything about the presence of
He said the security forces were continuing the operation and it was not
possible to determine the identity of those killed so for.
He said once the operation ends, the investigation about those killed would
Massive blasts and gunfire rocked the Red Mosque for 16 hours, sending
plumes of smoke billowing above the Islamabad city and raising fears about
the fate of scores of women and children inside the complex.
The government said the death of Abdul Rashid Ghazi was a major setback to
the rebels, some allegedly linked to Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, who fought
with rocket-propelled grenades and sniped at soldiers from the minarets.
The cleric died "in a hail of bullets" after troops spotted him in the
basement where he spent most of the day barricaded with some children and
women, interior ministry spokesman Brigadier Javed Cheema said.
"Ghazi came out with four or five militants who kept on firing at security
forces. The troops responded and in the crossfire he was killed," Cheema
"It is a big blow to the extremist element in the country and a lesson for
Director General ISPR Major General Waheed Arshad said troops had secured 80
percent of the complex and were moving slowly as "the resistance is intense
in the remaining area."
He said over 50 militants and eight soldiers were confirmed dead and at
least 29 soldiers were wounded.
Around 60 women and children have so far emerged from the complex since the
dawn assault was launched, but many more are still believed to be inside.
"The militants are using women and children as human shields," he added.
The militants had booby-trapped much of the compound and "have turned the
mosque into a trench for them, they have violated the sanctity of the
mosque," Gen Arshad said.
It was not clear how many militants or civilians were still inside. The
government has spoken of 100 militants, and 300 to 400 women and children
hostages. Mosque leaders had denied holding civilians as human shields and
insisted all those in the compound were there voluntarily.
Fifty militants surrendered after they were given a final chance during a
break in the fighting.
Some reports said that the wife and daughter of Abdul Aziz, Ghazi's brother
and the official head of the mosque, who was captured trying to flee in a
woman's burqa on Wednesday, were among a group of civilians freed.
A man who picked up one of the mobile phones belonging to Ghazi before his
death said there were "dead bodies everywhere."
In one of his final calls, made to a private television channel shortly
after the raid, Ghazi accused the government of being insincere in its
efforts to resolve the crisis. More than 1,200 male and female students fled
the mosque earlier in the standoff.
Minutes before the operation, top government negotiator Chaudhry Shujaat
Hussain, a former Prime minister of Pakistan who is the chief of PML (Q)
announced that 11 hours of negotiations with Ghazi had failed.
Street battles broke out on July 3 between police and the mosque's radical
students, and it has been under a 24-hour shoot-on-sight curfew ever since.
Officials have said militant commanders are inside, including some from the
extremist group Harkatul-Jihad-e-Islami.
An earlier report had said that security forces launched operation from
three different directions against the militants holed up at Lal Masjid and
Jamia Hafsa during the wee hours on Tuesday.
“Troops have entered into the madrassa from southern and western sides, and
have also cleared a major portion of Lal Masjid as well,” Director General
Inter Service Public Relations Maj. General Waheed Arshad told mediapersons
shortly after the operation.
He had said militants were offering stiff resistance from the basements and
washrooms of the mosque and presently intense engagement was underway in the
He said militants were using small arms, grenades and petrol bombs against
“So far five security personnel have sustained injuries in the joint
operation spearheaded by the special forces”.
To a question, he said it was a huge complex comprising of basements and a
number of rooms and the operation may last for three to four hours.
He said every possible effort would be made to complete this operation as
soon as possible with minimum casualties.
He said so far 25 students have managed to escape the compound since the
start of operation. They have reached to the Rangers and were shifted to
As reported by Pakistan's first independent daily E-newspaper 'Pakistan
Times' in its Tuesday edition, more than 40 militants and seven soldiers
were reported killed in a clean-up operation on radical Lal [Red] mosque in
the capital Islamabad in pre-dawn hours on Tuesday.
"It is a final push to clear the place of armed militants," said military
spokesman Maj Gen Waheed Arshad.
An update report said that more than 50 militants were killed in the
operation, as loud explosions and gunfire were heard.
However, some reports say that 70 militants who were killed in the operation
against Lal Masjid and Jamia Hafsa; three security officials also were
reported to have lost their lives.
Loud explosions and gunfire were heard coming from the mosque area for
several hours from early on Tuesday.
Gen Arshad said the security forces now control almost the entire mosque
complex, which include a religious school (madrassa) for female students.
"There is still a significant area which has yet to be cleared. There is
A large number of militants have been captured during the operation. Later a
report said that about 50 militants had surrendered to government forces.
The duration of curfew in Sector G-6 has been increased. There are reports,
40 men have also been arrested from Jamia Hafsa.
The military operation began at about 0400 PST on Tuesday [23:00 GMT
The troops entered the compound and exchanged fire with the militants holed
While over 50 militants were killed and many others injured, medical
officials said more than 20 government troops were injured, and three had
died of their wounds after being taken to local hospitals.
It was reported that the security forces took over the building's roof. Yet,
they met particularly strong resistance from militants in the basement.
Those inside the mosque used hand grenades, light machine guns, petrol bombs
and other weapons.
However, all-out efforts were made to shift children, both male and female,
who were students at the mosque complex to safer places instantly to ensure
Another report had said that militants had been putting up resistance from
the mosque minarets and a part of Jamia Hafsa is on fire now.
Some parts of Jamia Hafsa had also caught fire. And there were sounds of
There are reports of casualties on both the sides and dozens others are
According to some other reports, there are dead bodies and injured people
found everywhere in Jamia Hafsa and Lal Masjid premises. More than hundred
blasts have been heard.
Troops in Pakistan's capital city of Islamabad began an operation to storm
the Red [Lal] Mosque, after talks with radicals there broke down.
"It is a final push to clear the place of armed militants," military
spokesman Major General Waheed Arshad said.
Troops engaged in the operation were reported to have faced resistance from
those who where lodging in the basement of the Red mosque complex.
General Waheed Arshad said that it was early to tell the exact figure of the
causalities. It shall be made public; the moment the operation is over.
Earlier, the deputy cleric of the mosque Maulana Abdur Rashid Ghazi told a
television channel just before his death that his mother had been hit by
firing and had died.
He said that he was ready to hand-over the complex to the authorities, but
after that matter was settled with a group of Ulema, the operation was
While Ghazi was speaking to the television via phone a big bang of blast was
heard, where after the telecom communication with the cleric went off
abruptly. It was felt that either the cleric had switched off his phone or
was hit by the operation which made him unable to speak.
However, some reports confirmed of severe scuffle inside the Lal [Red]
mosque. At different stages, there was an eyeball-to-eyeball battle between
the security forces and those living in the Red mosque as well as its'
There had been hopes that an agreement would be reached to end the
But a government team abandoned their efforts early on Tuesday. "I am
returning very disappointed," said former Prime Minister and PML (Q) Chief
Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain.
Reports said that several explosions were heard in vicinities around the
mosque. The entire area remained covered by thick smoke after the launch of
the operation, which was visible even in far off sectors.
While all roads were blocked in this area, the residents of the G-6 sector
of Islamabad, where this mosque is located were advised not to go on their
homes’ rooftops nor should they look outside from windows.
People were also advised not to come outside of their house and should stay
away from coming into streets or roads.
Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain had hoped to persuade those inside to give them
Reports say that students at the Red Mosque and its attached religious
schools have been defying the authorities for several months in their
campaign for Sharia law in the capital.
After initial explosions, there was intermittent gunfire around the mosque,
A large number of ambulances rushed between the Red Mosque and at different
hospitals, taking the wounded for medical aid.
A state of emergency was declared at hospitals. An earlier report had said
that 10 personnel of the security were brought injured to the PIMS,
Islamabad’s largest medical complex.
Minister Ejaz-ul-Haq had said women and children had been locked up on two
floors of the Jamia Hafsa religious school, which is attached to the mosque.
As many as five "hardcore terrorists" were inside the mosque, he added,
saying that one person killed on the first day of the siege belonged to
Jaish-e-Mohammad, an outlawed radical organisation.
Talks broke down over the militants' demand for an amnesty for all inside
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