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Death toll rises to 24 in clashes between Lal Masjid and Pakistani security forces
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07:58, July 09, 2007

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The death toll in the clashes between Lal Masjid, or Red Mosque, and Pakistani security forces rose to 24 on Sunday, a private TV channel DAWN NEWS reported.

As the standoff between Lal Masjid religious students and the government enters the sixth day, the death toll has reached 24, State Minister for Information Tariq Azeem confirmed.

It is difficult to verify the casualties inside the mosque, Azeem said, adding that the government's policy remains unchanged and use of force is still the last option.

At present, the government security forces have to wait in order to save more lives, according to a statement made by Azeem.

Abdul Rashid Ghazi, deputy chief of Lal Masjid claimed that 335religious students died in the overnight operation on Saturday, according reports on local TV channels.

There are still more than 1,000 male and female students in LalMasjid, Jamia Hafsa, a Pakistani newspaper The Nation quoted Umm-e-Hassan, the principal of Jamia Hafsa and wife of Lal Masjid chief Maulana Abdul Aziz, as saying on Sunday.

Source: Xinhua

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