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Pakistani gov't avoids major operation against Red Mosque to save lives: official (2)
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10:20, July 08, 2007

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Waraich said if Ghazi and his followers surrender within half- an-hour, the operation will end and the nation will then come out of the current tense situation.

To another question, the official said if the government uses force the operation would end within an hour.

Appealing to the remaining students to come out of the mosque, Waraich said the surrendered people would not be humiliated. However, he added that the wanted people will be dealt with according to law.

The state minister said there are reasons for the slow surrender movement as there are some desperate militants inside who have held many boys and girls hostages.

A series of blasts and gunfire continued around besieged Lal Masjid Saturday.

A delegation of Islamist politicians from religious party Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal(MMA), wanting to convince Abdul Rashid Ghazi to allow women and children to leave, have been denied access to the mosque.

Troops surrounded the mosque on July 4, a day after tensions between Lal Masjid followers and security personnel deployed outside the mosque erupted into deadly street clashes, which so far have left at least 19 people killed and over 100 injured.

Source: Xinhua
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