More detainees of Pakistan’s Lal Masjid operation released

 By Xinhua

Islamabad : The Pakistani Interior Ministry Thursday informed the Supreme Court that 51 more detainees of the Lal-Masjid operation were being released that day, the state-run APP news agency reported.

The superintendent of Adyala jail told a two-member bench in the court that a total of 116 people are currently detained in jail, including 16 below 18 years of age, the Associated Press of Pakistan reported.

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The jail official said that four detainees including Maulana Abdul Aziz, the chief of the Lal Masjid (or Red Mosque), his wife Umme Hasaan and two daughters had been detained in Simly dam rest house, which has been declared a sub-jail.

A total of 620 persons were detained in Adyala Jail after the Lal Masjid operation, out of which 508 have been released and 112 are still in the jail, the jail official said, adding that the total number of detained persons would be 50 after releasing another 62.

The Supreme Court bench directed Deputy Commissioner of Islamabad, Chaudhry Mohammad Ali, to arrange a meeting of the legal aid committee with Umme Hasaan, principal of the Lal Masjid-affiliated Jamia Hafsa Islamic seminary and verify the list of 1,771 persons provided by the interior ministry to the court with her, according to the APP report.

Denying reports that 5,000 to 6,000 female students were enrolled in Jamia Hafsa, Pakistani Interior Ministry Spokesman Brig Javed Iqbal Cheema said on July 24 that there were a total of1,770 female students enrolled in Jamia Hafsa, out of which 1,526 were boarders and remaining were day scholars.

Cheema said on Tuesday the Capital Development Authority (CDA) in Islamabad is working day and night to renovate the Lal Masjid and it would be hopefully opened for the coming Friday prayers.

Troops besieged the Islamabad-based Lal Masjid and Jamia Hafsa mosque and seminary compound on July 4 after some religious students belonging to the Jamia Hafsa Islamic seminary first attacked policemen deployed outside the mosque.

The security forces launched a full scale military operation against the defiant armed miliants inside Lal Masjid compound on July 10 after the negotiation through religious scholars failed to convince the militants to surrender. The operation ended on July 11.

Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz told Xinhua on July 19 that about 1,150 people had managed to come out of the Lal Masjid and the Jamia Hafsa compound since the beginning of the siege on July 3.

"76 bodies were recovered when troops entered the mosque (on July 10)," Aziz said. "Some women and children were among them."

The death toll in the government operation against the mosque and the seminary compound is 103, including 11 soldiers and security men, according to Aziz.