Surrender or be killed, Musharraf warns besieged militants


Islamabad : Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf Saturday ruled out any compromise with the hardcore militants holed up in a besieged mosque for last five days and warned them to surrender or face death.

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The hard-line Islamists at the Lal Majid have offered strong resistance to around 12,000 paramilitary and military troops carrying out a security operation since Tuesday when the extremists attacked a police check post.

"The Lal Masjid administration has damaged the Muslims and Islam throughout the world," Musharraf was quoted as saying by several news channels, adding that no compromise would be made on peace and the writ of the law would be ensured all over the country at all cost.

"Those inside the mosque should surrender, otherwise they will be killed," the president said. "The government is exercising maximum restraint to save the lives of innocents being held by militants at the mosque."

However, Lal Masjid cleric Abdul Rashid Ghazi and his followers remained defiant.

"We can never turn ourselves in. We will accept martyrdom but will not surrender," Ghazi told Geo news channel after the government dismissed his offer to surrender in return for safe passage for his followers.

Around 450 students made their wills after offering Friday prayers, sources inside the mosque told the news channels.

"Our entire struggle and sacrifices were for the enforcement of Islamic law in the country," Salman, a student, said in his will. "We hope that the people of Pakistan will carry forward our efforts for an Islamic justice system."

Musharraf escaped an assassination attempt on Friday when several anti-aircraft rounds missed his plane.

Immediately after the incident, some militants inside the mosque told Geo that their supporters had carried out the attack, but the claim could not be verified.