Sunday, July 06, 2008

Bomb at Red Mosque

First we had this: Pakistani Islamists converge on capital for Red Mosque demo.

Thousands of Islamist hardliners converged amid tight security in the Pakistani capital on Sunday to commemorate the first anniversary of the deadly siege and storming of the Red Mosque, officials said.

Religious leaders were set to address a crowd in front of the building, where they would call for the release of the mosque's jailed leader and for the government to hand back control of the complex to its former administration.

"There will be thousands of people, students from madrassas holding a day-long conference outside the mosque," Qari Abdul Rashid, protest organiser and convenor of the Lal Masji (Red Mosque) Action Committee, told AFP.

He said they would press the government to free mosque leader Abdul Aziz, who was caught fleeing in a woman's burqa on the second day of the siege, and to rebuild an adjoining girls' Islamic school demolished after the crisis.

The protesters would also call for students to be allowed back to a boys' madrassa in a separate part of Islamabad and urge authorities to "restore Lal Masjid's old status."

"We will remain peaceful and it will be an impressive show," Rashid said.

Then this occurred. Impressive show indeed.

A suicide bomb attack near the controversial Red Mosque in Pakistan's capital of Islamabad has left more than 10 people dead.

Senior government official Rana Akbar Hayat told reporters on Sunday that all the victims were police officials. The attacker had targeted a the police station, he said.

Many others have reportedly been wounded.

The incident occurred after an estimated 2,000 Islamists held a rally near the mosque, which is also known as the "Lal Masjid."

They chanted "God is great!," waved their fists and proclaimed support for holy war.