From library occupation to Lal Masjid operation

ISLAMABAD, July 11: The standoff between the government and the Lal Masjid administration began on January 22 when Jamia Hafsa students took over the children's library adjacent to Lal Masjid, and ended on July 10 with the killing of Lal Masjid deputy prayer leader Abdul Rashid Ghazi and dozens of his followers.

The following is a chronology of events that took place at Lal Masjid:

January 22: Baton-wielding girl students took over the children's library to protest against the demolition of mosques and madrassas in Islamabad.

March 25: The girl students picked up three women for allegedly running a brothel, who were later released when they promised to lead a pious life.

April 6: The Lal Masjid administration set up a Shariah court inside the mosque and the chief prayer leader, Maulana Abdul Aziz, threatened to launch suicide attacks if the government tried to use force against them.

April 9: The Lal Masjid Shariah court issued a decree against former tourism minister Nilofar Bakhtiar for hugging an instructor after a parachute jump in France.

April 10: The government blocked the mosque's website and radio station in reaction to the Lal Masjid administration's provocative attitude.

May 19: The Lal Masjid students kidnapped four policemen following the arrest of their dozen supporters. The students kidnapped another two policemen, but later set all of them free.

June 23: The Jamia Hafsa students kidnapped nine people, including seven Chinese nationals (six women and a man) from an acupuncture clinic, claiming it was an undercover brothel. All were freed following protests from Beijing.

July 3: The students snatched weapons from policemen deployed at a building facing the Jamia Hafsa. Troops and paramilitary forces cordoned off the Lal Masjid and Jamia Hafsa compound, leading to a tense standoff between the security forces and militants inside the Lal Masjid.

July 4: The government imposes a curfew around the mosque complex. It says anyone who wishes to may leave the premises, but any armed militants will be shot on sight. The first two days of fighting leave at least 16 people dead and some 140 injured. Among the hundreds of people holed up in the complex are women students and children.

Security forces capture Lal Masjid prayer leader Abdul Aziz while trying to leave disguised in a woman's burqa. This sparks an exodus, with some 1,200 people leaving the complex.

July 5: New fighting breaks out around the mosque complex, with students inside throwing hand grenades and the army demolishing most of a surrounding wall. Interior Minister Aftab Sherpao accuses Abdul Rashid Ghazi of retaining women and children as human shields inside the mosque.

Around 50 more militants leave the building voluntarily, and security forces say they have captured eight more.

July 6: Heavy explosions are heard around the mosque complex. From inside, Ghazi announces that he and his followers would rather die than surrender. Officials say that several hundred students remain inside the complex, along with some 60 armed militants, but the figures cannot be independently verified.

July 7: President General Pervez Musharraf said that all militants holed-up inside the mosque would be killed if they did not surrender.

The government puts the death toll from clashes at 19, while Ghazi says 70 have been killed.

Ghazi says he received a phone call from a man who claimed to have shot at Musharraf's aircraft on Friday in revenge for the siege. Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz accuses the militants of holding hostages. Ghazi denies the claim.

July 8: Security forces tighten the noose on the mosque complex, as a senior commando is killed in an operation to blast through the complex wall in a bid to allow women and children inside to flee.

Religious Affairs Minister Ejazul Haq says militants have stripped Ghazi of control of the mosque. Haq calls the militants "terrorists," saying some of them are foreign. Another senior official says 15 militants have been given explosives-laden suicide jackets.

Musharraf, Aziz and top officials meet to assess the government's options. The government puts the death toll at 24.

July 9: Musharraf meets with key officials to determine the next step. He appoints PML President Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain to work with clerics to find a peaceful solution. Pro-Taliban militant commanders in Bajaur Agency tell 20,000 tribesmen that they must exact revenge for the siege. The tribesmen vow to wage "holy war" against Musharraf. A delegation of ministers and clerics hold last-ditch talks with Ghazi using loudspeakers. The government offers Ghazi house arrest. Negotiations break down.

July 10: The security forces launched a final operation against the Lal Masjid militants at 4am after all efforts to defuse the situation failed. Troops storm the mosque in a bid to free the women and children inside, sparking fierce gun battles with militants that leave at least 50 militants and eight soldiers dead, the army said. Ghazi is also killed in the operation. Daily times

Your Comments

"This news analysis is totaly biased. and it does not mention at all what Government have been doing during all that time when this problem was enhancing. Government just cooked it up till the time they could get the maximum benefit from it and proved themself successful in the eyes of America. God is watching all that and justice will be done in His court where no one can escape."
Name: Sara Khan
City, Country: Islamabad, Pakistan

"i am not agreeing.Governament never ever launch the opreation on innocent boys and girls.this problem should be solved through dialog process but some govet official dn,t wana resolve it.however i just say k lal masjid k shohada k khoon ranng llay gaa. her ghar se ghazi nikly ga tum kitny ghazi maaroo gay. and another intersting news God give him a new child when he martyard at 10 july his name was as same as his father abdul rashid ghazi."
Name: awais
City, Country: Islamabad, Pakistan



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