Red Mosque Holdouts Vow to Die

Pakistani government halts assault to allow women to escape, but rejects anything but unconditional surrender
By Ben Worthen,  Newser User
Posted Jul 6, 2007 7:41 AM CDT

(Newser) – The militant cleric in Islamabad's besieged Red Mosque who yesterday suggested a negotiated surrender today said he and his followers would martyr themselves, after the government refused to negotiate. Nineteen people have been killed since the stand-off began four days ago; several hundred students are estimated to remain inside the mosque.

President Musharraf ordered security forces to hold back in its assault on the mosque in order to allow women and girls to exit safely. But the government dismissed anything but unconditional surrender. "We are ready for our heads to be cut off but we will not bow to them," declared Abdul Rashid Ghazi, the brother of the radical mosque leader who was captured trying to escape wearing a burqa.