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Pakistani gov't avoids major operation against Red Mosque to save lives: official
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09:40, July 08, 2007

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Pakistani government is avoiding full-fledged military operation against the Lal Masjid mosque and seminary complex as it does not want massive bloodshed, the state minister for interior said Saturday.

Pakistan''s Minister of State for Interior Zafar Iqbal Waraich made the remarks during an interview with a private TV channel.

Hundreds of male and female students are believed to remain inside the Lal Masjid or Red Mosque compound.

The state minister said that 1,221 students, including 795 boys and 426 girls, have come out and hoped that the circumstances would force others to surrender gradually.

To a question about the deadline of the operation, Waraich said it depends on the surrender of Abdul Rasheed Ghazi, deputy chief of Lal Masjid, and his followers, who continued to be defiant as the standoff entered into a fifth day Saturday.

Talking to Geo News TV channel in an earlier interview, Ghazi said, "We have decided that we can be martyred but we will not surrender."

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