11 killed in bombing at hotel near the mosque compound
Just one day after the reopening of the Lal Masjid, or Red Mosque, the radical, Taliban and al Qaeda-supporting Islamist students of the mosque have reoccupied the complex. Fighting appears to have broken out between the Islamists and government security forces after the students ejected the new, government-appointed leader of the mosque, and began to repaint the walls red. Meanwhile a suicide bomber killed at least six police and five civilians in an attack on a cafe outside a hotel less than one kilometer from the Red Mosque. Over 20 were wounded, including women and children. Police are said to be advancing on the mosque, firing tear gas and wielding riot batons.
The latest conflict at the Red Mosque, which sits in the heart of the capital of Islamabad, began after over 100 followers of Maulana Abdul Rashid Ghazi and Maulana Abdul Aziz entered the complex and rejected the prayers offered by Maulana Ashfaq Ahmad, the government-appointed leader of the mosque. “They took into their possession [microphone] and pulpit and started chanting slogans, Al Jehad, Al-Jehad,” the Pak Tribune reported. The Islamists demanded the restoration of Abdul Aziz as the leader of the mosque as well as the reconstruction of Jamia Hafsa seminary.
The Pakistani government rushed to reopen the Red Mosque and patched up the battle damage from the government assault on the mosque complex in mid-July. Upwards of 100 were killed during that siege, including Maulana Abdul Aziz and over 70 supporters of the mosque.
The Taliban and al Qaeda have conducted numerous attacks since the assault on the Red Mosque. Suicide attacks, rocket and mortar strikes, ambushes, and IED attacks against military, government, and political targets have occurred and are continuing in Islamabad, the Northwest Frontier Province, and Baluchistan.
The Pakistani government is attempting to restore the failed Waziristan Accord with the Taliban in North Waziristan as attacks against the military continue unabated. Today’s clashes in North and South Waziristan resulted in one soldier killed and ten government officials wounded. In the northern district of Dir, 23 policemen were wounded in a series of rocket attacks and ambushes. The Pakistani military has largely absorbed these attacks.