Students end Islamabad mosque’s siege


Islamabad : Angry students, who had occupied Islamabad's Lal Masjid or red mosque after it was opened for the Friday prayers for the first time in three weeks after the military operation, ended its occupation after few hours.

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The police made announcements from armoured vehicles asking the students to leave the mosque.

When the students did not disperse the police used tear gas shells.

The deputy commissioner Islamabad Chaudhry Muhamamd Ali said the government had reopened the mosque for Friday prayers at the request from the residents but some people took advantage to create law and order.

He said the authorities will decide whether or not to re-impose curfew.

The students had earlier occupied the mosque when it was reopened for the Friday prayers after the operation, which killed more than 100 people, including soldiers.

The students were demanding the return of Imam Maulana Abdul Aziz who was arrested days before the soldiers stormed the mosque. They threatened that no one will be allowed to offer prayers unless Maulana Aziz is restored as Imam.

They also forced the government appointed Imam from leading Friday prayers.

Scores of female students also joined the male students in protest.

The students repainted the mosque with red colour as the government had changed the colour after the operation.

The students chanted slogans against President Musharraf and also wrote slogans at the mosque against Musharraf.

The students chanted slogans for deputy imam Abdul Rashid Gazi, who was killed during the operation.

The mosque was opened on Friday after three months of closure.

Some 200 students started protest as it was reopened.

The mosque building was partially damaged during the operation in the first week of July but the government renovated it.

A new imam from another mosque was appointed as the new imam but the students did not allow him to lead prayers and the police escorted him out of the mosque.