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Red Mosque students surrender slowly

  • Story Highlights
  • Government source: Deadline for students' surrender lapsed at 11 a.m.
  • Gunfire between Islamic students and Pakistani forces left 12 dead Tuesday
  • Students blamed for recent kidnappings of civilians, Chinese and local police
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From Syed Mohsin Naqvi
CNN
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ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) -- More than 100 radical Islamic students holed up at an Islamabad mosque compound surrendered Wednesday morning, winding down an intense standoff between militants and government forces, a government source told CNN.

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A Pakistani soldier takes position near the Red Mosque during a curfew in Islamabad Tuesday.

More were expected to leave the Lal Masjid, or Red Mosque, and its surrounding area shortly after a government-imposed deadline for their surrender lapsed at 11 a.m. (0600 GMT), the source said.

No operations have been launched by security forces at the scene, according to the source. They are waiting as militants slowly surrender.

The new developments follow on the heels of a deadly gunbattle between Red Mosque students and Pakistani forces that left 12 people dead on Tuesday.

Tensions have been simmering between police and the students at the mosque, who are blamed for a string of recent kidnappings of civilians, Chinese nationals and Pakistani police.

As part of their clampdown on the mosque compound -- which includes several madrassas, or religious schools -- police set up a security perimeter around the mosque compound last week.

Tuesday's violence began when about 150 militant students attacked a police checkpoint close to the mosque. Police fired tear gas and the students fought back with sticks and guns.

They were joined by dozens of women from one of the madrassas attached to the mosque, who chanted in support of holy war.

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When police responded, some of the students snatched their weapons and tried to kidnap several police, according to police.

The students then fired on Pakistani forces, killing at least two security personnel and wounding seven others, police said.

The students, some armed with Kalashnikovs and wearing gas masks, held positions behind sandbags in camps located around the mosque compound.

Pakistani forces returned fire, killing at least four students. A Pakistani journalist was killed in the crossfire, and several other journalists were wounded -- including a cameraman, who is in critical condition.

The government has been investigating the activities of the Red Mosque students, who are demanding sharia, or Islamic law, be instituted in Islamabad.

Tuesday's violence spread to other parts of Islamabad, where the radical students burned more than a dozen government vehicles and set fire to a private school and the offices of Pakistan's environmental agency.

As a precaution, shopping markets in Islamabad were shut down. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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