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Forces close in on besieged Pakistani mosque

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Forces close in on besieged Pakistani mosque


Tension remains high around a besieged mosque in the Pakistani capital Islamabad where hundreds of students are locked in a deadly stand-off with authorities. Violence erupted on Tuesday after president Pervez Musharraf deployed the army around the mosque, which is used as a base by radical Islamists. They want to impose a Taliban-style version of Islamic law in the city and have been challenging the government in recent months.

At least 16 people were killed. A radical cleric captured on Wednesday as he was trying to flee the mosque dressed as a woman said the nearly 1,000 followers still inside would not be able to hold out for long. Hundreds of insurgents have already heeded a government call to lay down their arms. Deputy information minister Tariq Azim has said all women and children who surrender will be granted amnesty, but men involved in killings and other crimes and top mosque leaders will face legal action.

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