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REFILE-Pakistan razes madrasa in miitant mosque complex
July 25, 2007 / 9:44 AM / in 10 years

REFILE-Pakistan razes madrasa in miitant mosque complex

(Refiles to fix typo in paragraph 2)

ISLAMABAD, July 25 (Reuters) - Pakistani authorities are demolishing a battle-scarred Islamic madrasa in Islamabad’s Red Mosque complex, where scores of people were killed in an army assault this month, officials said on Wednesday.

Pakistan army commandos stormed the Lal Masjid or Red Mosque and adjoining Jamia Hafsa seminary for women on July 10, after followers of radical clerics who were running a Taliban-style movement from the complex refused to surrender.

Authorities say the government decided to raze the four-storeyed madrasa as its structure had been badly weakened by the fierce battles in the compound between security forces and the militants.

"We are demolishing the madrasa because technically it is very dangerous to sustain it," said Kamran Lashari, head of the city municipality.

"The demolition is going on and it will be completed in three to four days," he added.

However, he said the government had no plans to demolish the mosque, and it was being renovated to be reopened for prayers on Friday.

Lal Masjid had long been known as an Islamic radicals’ stronghold, but hit international headlines this year when burqa-clad female students of Jamia Hafsa and their male colleagues launched an aggressive campaign to impose Taliban-style religious culture in Islamabad.

They kidnapped women they accused of involvement in prostitution, abducted police and attacked music shops.

The government said 102 people were killed in eight days of fighting when security forces stormed the complex.

After the assault, President Pervez Musharraf, an important ally of the United States in its war on terror, vowed not to allow mosques or madrasas like the Lal Masjid and Jamia Hafsa to be used to spread militancy.

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