40 Killed in Ferocious Attack of Red Mosque in Islamabad

World | July 10, 2007, Tuesday // 00:00

At least 40 Islamic militants have been killed in a ferocious attack of the Red Mosque in Islamabad early on Tuesday, international media reported.

The 40 people fell victims as troops stormed the besieged Lal Masjid or the Red Mosque compound in a bid to end a tense weeklong standoff.

Pakistani Army spokesman Major General Waheed Arshad said troops entered the mosque after last-ditch talks failed to persuade the students inside to surrender.

Between 150 and 300 militants are offering "intense resistance" and both sides are "using hand grenades and guns," General Arshad told GEO television. Twenty militants were killed and 15 wounded, while three members of the security forces died and 10 have been injured, he said, adding that about 20 children had been rescued from an adjoining school.

The assault started after 11 hours of talks between the government and Deputy Chief Cleric Abdul Rashid Ghazi failed earlier today.

At least 24 people have died in the last week in gun battles at the mosque in an escalation of a dispute with students that began in April.

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