Troops Storm Red Mosque After Talks Collapse- Children Flee

Update: The leader of the Red Mosque was killed in the fighting today.

Abdul Rashid Ghazi’s body was found in the basement of the Red Mosque after the fighting earlier today- BBC.

150-200 militants are offering stiff resistance using hand grenades, machine guns, and petrol bombs to fight the Pakistani troops.
It’s Tuesday morning and the troops are storming the Red Mosque.

Bill Roggio has details on the fighting with an aerial view of the mosque.

Smoke rises from Lal masjid, or Red mosque, during heavy gunbattle between Pakistan troops and militants, Tuesday, July 10, 2007 in Islamabad, Pakistan. Troops stormed the compound of Islamabad’s Red Mosque on Tuesday, prompting a fierce fire fight with militants accused of holding about 150 hostages inside, officials said. (AP Photo/Anjum Naveed)

Troops in Pakistan’s city of Islamabad have stormed the Red Mosque, after talks with radicals broke down.
“It is a final push to clear the place of armed militants,” said military spokesman Major General Waheed Arshad.

The army said at 20 militants were killed in the operation, as loud explosions and gunfire were heard.

Twenty children escaped from the mosque, where women are also being held. Three soldiers are reported killed and some 20 others injured.

The army says it has taken over the building’s roof.

However, it is meeting particularly strong resistance from militants in the basement, reports the BBC’s Syed Shoaib Hasan at the scene.

Those inside the mosque are using hand grenades, light machine guns, petrol bombs and other weapons, and the army says it expects the operation will last another four hours.

Ambulances are waiting nearby to help any wounded.

The leader of the Red Mosque, Deputy Chief Cleric Abdul Rashid Ghazi, urged Pakistanis on national TV to continue the struggle.

An injured man is evacuated to a hospital after an assault by security forces on the Lal Masjid or Red Mosque in Islamabad July 10, 2007. Pakistani forces stormed the Lal Masjid or Red Mosque compound in the capital on Tuesday and big blasts and sporadic gunfire rang out over the city after talks to end a week-long standoff with militants broke down. Twenty militants and three members of the Pakistani security force have been killed in the assault, the military said. (REUTERS/Faisal Mahmood)

Update: BBC- Up to 50 militants are dead from the fighting. 50 students were freed.

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