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Firing continues during curfew relaxation around Pakistani hard-line Red Mosque
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15:25, July 07, 2007

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Firing resumed Saturday during a one and half hour relaxation around the hard-line Lal Masjid, or Red Mosque, in Pakistani capital as the standoff between the mosque radicals and security personnel entered into a fifth day.

Besieged deputy chief of Lal Masjid, Maulana Abdul Rashid Ghazi and a number of hard-core armed students, declaring that they preferred martyrdom to surrender, remained defiant inside the mosque.

The security agencies kept shelling the besieged complex even during an hour-long heavy rain and storm in the wee hours of Saturday and the Lal Masjid inmates also resorted to intensive firing.

Main gate as well as the lobby of the mosque and seminary complex were completely demolished, local media reports said.

Pakistan Rangers have already taken control of Jamia Faridia, a religious school in E-7, another area of Islamabad, also affiliated to Lal Masjid, with mutual consent, the DAWN NEWS TV channel reported.

Unconfirmed reports said there were several blasts in E-7 and neighboring areas during Friday night.

Government officials called upon public efforts for urging the mosque and seminary administration to let innocent children and students held hostages inside the mosque go out of the premises of the complex.

But Maulana Abdul Rashid Ghazi said the male and female students, still inside the building, were not ready to leave despite requests by their parents and him, during an interview with private Geo News TV channel.

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