Pakistani forces say up to 50 militants and eight soldiers have been killed after they stormed Islamabad’s controversial Red Mosque. Loud blasts could be heard across the capital early this morning as the troops carried out the raid after negotiations failed. Authorities believe a rebel cleric is hiding in the Red Mosque and keeping women and children as human shields.
It took nine hours for troops to seize control of at least 70 percent of the compound. But capturing the rest could take a lot longer, according to Major-General Waheed Arshad. “There are women and children in the complex and we are taking a step by step approach to ensure there is no unnecessary collateral damage.
In the first hours of the raid, militants put up strong resistance with automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades. Soldiers also came under fire from the minarets as they overran the mosque at the beginning, allowing 20 children to escape.
Hardline students at the mosque and its attached religious schools have been defying the authorities for months in their battle to have for Sharia law declared in the capital.