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Pakistan denies cleric’s claim of casualty

By Xinhua

Islamabad : Pakistan Sunday denied the claim of Lal Masjid cleric that the operation Saturday night claimed over 300 students in the mosque, where the standoff between radical Islamists and security forces entered sixth day.

The Interior Ministry spokesman Brigadier Javed Iqbal Cheema said that the security forces have been trying best to minimize human losses in operation and never used heavy weapons against militants in the mosque, according to Geo.

Cheema stressed that the bombings carried out by security forces on Saturday night were aimed at breaching sections of the walls on the mosque compound so that the children who were taken hostages could get out.

Abdul Rashid Ghazi, deputy chief of Lal Masjid who is leading resistance in the mosque – were militants are holed up, had claimed earlier that 310 girls and 25 male students were killed in overnight army bombing of the compound on Saturday night.

Rashid said he had stocks of weapons enough to keep fighting the security forces for one month.

Earlier Minister for Information Tariq Azeem said the death toll in the clashes between radical students in the Lal Masjid and Pakistani security forces has risen to 24.

It is difficult to verify the casualties inside the mosque, Azeem said, adding that the government's policy remains unchanged and use of force is still the last option.