A radical Islamist cleric who took hundreds of women and children hostage in a bid to force a Taliban-style regime in Islamabad, is dead. Pakistan’s interior minister said 43-year-old Abdul Rashid Ghazi was killed during an attack by troops against the famous Red Mosque. He had refused to surrender, insisting he wanted to be a martyr to provoke an “Islamic revolution” in Pakistan. There is so far no news on the fate of the hostages he was holding as human shields.
Ghazi, and at least 100 of his followers, had held government troops at bay for seven days. But when another round of negotiations failed overnight soldiers moved in. At least 50 militants and eight soldiers have been killed so far in day-long fighting, many more have been injured.
One eyewitness inside the Mosque said there were bodies everywhere. The militants, who have vowed to fight to the last man, are armed with rocket-propelled grenades and automatic weapons. The government believes they are al-Qaeda linked.