Mosque massacre: Washington’s “war on terror” shakes Pakistan
By Bill Van Auken
11 July 2007
A week-long siege mounted by the Pakistani military against Lal Masjid, or Red Mosque, in Islamabad ended violently Tuesday in bitter fighting that claimed a heavy loss of life. Citing Pakistani military sources, the Dawn News television network reported that 88 civilians and 12 army commandos had been killed by late Tuesday, as the day-long battle continued.
There was no way as of last night, however, to determine the real death toll. Military spokesman Major General Waheed Arshad declined to give a firm casualty figure, stating bluntly, “When the operation is finished we’ll start picking up bodies.”
It is suspected that many of the victims are young madrassa students, drawn from poor families and from the strife-torn regions of Kashmir and the North West Frontier Province. In the course of the siege, frantic family members gathered on street corners outside the barbed-wire barricades erected by the military, hoping for news of their children and relatives trapped inside.
“He is getting dollars for every student from America, Europe and others,” Badshah Rehman, whose two sons were inside the mosque, said of Pakistan’s US-backed military dictator Gen. Pervez Musharraf. “He has killed our children for dollars,” he told the Reuters news agency, while keeping vigil with other parents.