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Last Updated: Thursday, 12 July 2007, 15:13 GMT 16:13 UK
Burnt bodies found at Red Mosque
Pakistani soldiers at battle-damaged Red Mosque - 12/07/2007
The mosque's school suffered the most battle damage
The bodies of 19 people, charred beyond recognition, are among the 75 bodies that Pakistani officials say have been found at a radical mosque in Islamabad.

Soldiers cleared the mosque complex of militants in a fierce 36-hour battle in which 10 soldiers were also killed.

An army spokesman said five of the charred bodies were of people killed by a suicide bomber in a locked room.

There are fears women and children may be among the victims but immediate confirmation is impossible.

Troops stormed the Red Mosque with its adjacent Islamic school after its clerics and students waged an increasingly aggressive campaign to enforce strict Sharia law in Pakistan's capital.

The battle for the complex ended Wednesday morning after a week-long siege.

'Any gender, any age'

"We recovered the head of the suicide bomber and his body parts," said army spokesman Maj Gen Waheed Arshad.

"We also found five bodies that were burned beyond recognition."

He said another 13 bodies were found that were also so badly charred they could be "any gender, any age".

HAVE YOUR SAY
The outcome of this episode will determine the future of war against terror
Muhammad Saeed, Islamabad

Military officials said they have taken photographs, fingerprints and DNA samples from the 75 bodies they say were found at the Red Mosque, or Lal Masjid.

Most of the bodies were buried Thursday morning in temporary graves identified with numbers.

An Islamabad city official said at least two children were among 69 bodies buried on Thursday.

'Suicide bombers'

Reporters were given access to the Red Mosque on Thursday.

The BBC's Barbara Plett says the girls' school, or madrassa, suffered the most damage.

Walls are covered with bullet holes and shattered glass lies everywhere.

RED MOSQUE STAND-OFF
3 July: Clashes erupt at mosque, 16 killed, after long student campaign for Islamic Sharia law
4 July: About 700 students leave mosque, now besieged by security forces; mosque leader caught trying to flee wearing woman's burka
5 July: More than 1,000 students surrender to security forces
6 July: Women are allowed to leave the mosque; students' deputy leader says he would rather die than surrender
8 July: Ministers say wanted militants are holding women and children inside the mosque
9 July: Negotiators talk to mosque leader via loudspeaker without progress; three Chinese workers are killed in Peshawar over siege
10 July: Pakistani troops storm mosque after failure of talks; army says Ghazi killed
11 July: Pakistani army says all militants cleared from mosque

The tops of the minarets of the mosque have been badly damaged as well. The army said they were used by gunmen to fire on the soldiers storming the mosque.

At least two rooms are completely blackened from fire and smoke, our correspondent says.

The army said it was in one of these rooms where a suicide bomber killed himself and five others. The army said there was evidence the victims had been held hostage in the room.

There was a suicide bombing at the front of the mosque as well, officials said.

The army also displayed a cache of weapons including machine-guns, grenades and suicide-bomb belts that were all seized when the militants' resistance finally came to an end.

Another casualty of the mosque fighting was one of its senior clerics, Abdul Rashid Ghazi, who the military says was killed in cross-fire.

He was buried on Thursday in his home village of Basti Abdullah in Punjab province in front of hundreds of mourners.

Our correspondent says many Pakistanis supported the operation, saying the government had no choice but to confront the Islamic extremists.

But, she adds, the authorities fear a violent reaction from other radicals and the country is on high alert.

THE RED MOSQUE SIEGE
map
1 Special forces attack compound from three sides and breach mosque walls
2 Fierce fighting between military and militants on mosque roof
3 Military take control of mosque and clear building
4 Militants fire from mosque minarets as action switches to madrassa
5 Remaining militants holed up in its basement, with women and children




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