150 more students surrendered as forces mount pressure


Islamabad : Some 150 more girl and male students of the Islamabad's Lal Masjid and its seminary surrendered Thursday morning as security forces mounted pressure on the remaining students in the complex to surrender.

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Head of the Lal Masjid, Maulana Abdul Aziz, who was arrested on Wednesday, in an interview on state-run television on Thursday asked the students inside the mosque and seminary complex either to surrender or escape under the given situation.

"It would be wrong to stay inside as I have seen massive deployment of security forces surrounding the mosque and seminary," Abdul Aziz said.

Aziz's younger brother Abdul Rashid Ghazi, who is leading the remaining students inside the complex, has refused to surrender unconditionally.

Security forces made loudspeaker announcements to the students to lay arms and surrender to the authorities to avoid bloodshed.

Head of the ruling Muslim League party, Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, said Thursday that the Lal Masjid deputy Abdul Rashid Ghazi, contacted him on phone last night but their talks failed without any progress.

Hussain said he asked Ghazi to surrender unconditionally to the authorities to resolve the problem, the request did not entertain the cleric.

The students both male and female started surrendering to authorities on the second day on Thursday and a group of five students was the first to come out of the complex at 7:30 a.m.

The surrendered female students were allowed to go with their parents after their names registration but the male students are shifted to prison for verification and questioning.

Spokesman of the Interior Ministry Javed Iqbal Cheema has said that some 1200 students surrendered in one day on Wednesday.

Some 300 students are still inside the complex, some of them are armed being led by Deputy Abdul Rashid Ghazi.

TV channels reported that the students handed over two dead bodies to the authorities on Thursday.

One Mehmod Khan, who belonged to North West Frontier Province, had come to Islamabad to take his student son from the mosque but was hit by a bullet from the security forces.

The local authorities announced a two-hour break in the curfew in areas surrounding the mosque and seminary from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.