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13 Killed in Blast Near Pakistan's Red Mosque

  • VOA News

A suicide bomber has killed at least 13 people, mostly police, and wounded more than 50 others near Pakistan's radical Red Mosque in Islamabad.

Police say Friday's blast occurred at a hotel restaurant near the complex, shortly after hundreds of Islamic students clashed with security forces. The students threw stones at police, who responded with tear gas.

Hundreds of people re-occupied the mosque Friday morning. They chased away a cleric chosen by the government to lead afternoon prayers and demanded the return of the pro-Taleban mosque's former cleric, Abdul Aziz, who is in police custody.

Interior Minister Aftab Sherpao said the government will not allow demonstrators to take the law into their own hands.

The government reopened the mosque Thursday, nearly two weeks after a deadly raid on the compound.


More than 100 people, including a top radical cleric Abdul Rashid Ghazi, died during an eight-day siege of the mosque compound.

Radical clerics led the school's students in an aggressive campaign to impose strict Islamic law in Pakistan.

Also Friday, Pakistani media reported that President Pervez Musharraf, who is currently visiting the United Arab Emirates, was to secretly meet with exiled former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. The reports say the two might form a power-sharing pact. However, both sides denied the reports as baseless.

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