Pakistan Interior Minister confirms 19 dead in clashes


Islamabad : Interior Minister Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherapo Thursday confirmed 19 in the three-day of clashes between the security forces and students holed in Islamabad's Lal Masjid.

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The Interior Minister told a news conference that a total 1146 students have come out and surrendered,
They included 745 male and 401 females, he said.

He said that 50 to 60 hardcore armed students are still inside the mosque and seminary complex and they have hand grenades, patrol bombs and automatic guns.

"They have forcibly stopped the women inside the complex and are not allowing them to come out and to surrender to the authorities," Sherpao said.

He said that male students are being sent to different places while the females are being sent to Haji Camp near Islamabad.

He said that nine girl students are with the authorities and will be handed over to their parents after their arrival in Islamabad.

The Minister ruled out any talks with the Maulana Abdul Rasheed Ghazi, the deputy of Lal Masjid, has no option but to unconditionally surrender before the law enforcing agencies.

"There is no dialogue with Abdul Rashid Ghazi and has only one option to unconditionally surrender. If he surrendered he will be treated in accordance with the law," Mr Sherpao said.

He said that Abdul Rashid Ghazi is present with some children in basement of the mosque complex and is using the children as human shield.

He denied reports that helicopter gunships fired on the mosque and seminary on Thursday, adding that the students fired shots at the helicopters.

"The security forces retaliated and fired at the students to exert pressure on them," he said.

The interior Minister said that the security forces are showing maximum restraint to avoid casualties.