[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Thursday, 19 July 2007, 18:04 GMT 19:04 UK
'I hoped to be a glorious martyr'
A woman who was inside Islamabad's Red Mosque when it was stormed by Pakistani troops on 10 July has given the BBC one of the first accounts of the final hours of the siege. Unwilling to be named, the survivor said she was not held hostage by militants inside.

More than 100 people died in the army operation - she was one of 30 women to walk out alive after soldiers went in. Following are excerpts from the interview with Rafia Riaz of the BBC's Urdu service.

I was not in contact with my family. The last time I contacted them, I told them that the army would not start an operation.

They asked me to come back home, but I said that I would never come back as I wished to be martyred. My brother said that he would force me to return, but I told him that he could be beaten up if he came near the seminary...

Pakistani soldier in the Red Mosque
"It was better to die than be buried under the debris"

A girl who came with us was taken home forcibly. She was crying and told the teacher that she didn't want to go back. The teacher asked her to go back with her parents.

We felt sorry for her as we came here with the passion of jihad [holy war] and to preach Islam, and now because there was a problem the girls had gone back. We did not appreciate the parents behaviour.

The teacher said that no one was being stopped from going home, and she asked parents to go and find their children to take them home. Very few girls left because they were afraid - those who left were either minors or they were forced to leave by their parents...

We were shocked that they cut off the electricity and also cut off the water and gas supply. What could we do? We were only praying to God to show them the right path.

Not enough explosives

They were throwing lots tear gas shells. We were continually cleaning our eyes with water. Glass windows were breaking, doors were breaking. We couldn't sleep, sometimes one would sleep for an hour, or half an hour, the others would stay awake. That way we managed...

Those killed in the Red Mosque siege are buried
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

We wanted to carry out suicide attacks. We didn't have enough ammunition to fight face to face. We had a small number of arms with which our mujahideen brothers were fighting.

We asked the teacher to provide us with arms necessary for suicide attacks. She said that we didn't have sufficient explosives. Yes, we had a passion and we were willing to go to all lengths...

After the evening prayer we found out that Maulana Aziz - the chief cleric - had been arrested while he was trying to flee wearing a burka. We were told that he'd been called to speak to the prime minister.

When we asked our teacher why Maulana Aziz had left in a burka she said that the prime minister advised him to do so. She said that he had been told to come out in disguise so that he wouldn't be killed...

We thought that they only wanted to arrest Maulana Aziz, but at night when the firing started we realised that they had other intentions...

On Thursday night [5 July], they attacked the kitchen and we were forced to survive on leaves and honey. They set fire to our room so we shifted to the next room. Police sprinkled petrol everywhere outside.

When we woke up on Saturday [7 July] our teacher told us that they had found lots of honey from the Red Mosque area. We made juice out of it and our brother brought leaves for us. All of us were without food from the day before so we ate leaves and honey juice...

Korans burning

We had been told by our teacher that they had put explosives in the building and that we shouldn't die in this manner, but that we should come outside to face the bullets or even surrender. It was better to come out rather than die under the debris...

Pakistani soldiers at battle-damaged Red Mosque - 12/07/2007
The mosque's school suffered the most battle damage

We came outside with our hands raised and saw that the doors were closed and they were on the roof. There was no way to leave. We told them that we had surrendered and they should not shoot at us. A policeman showed us the way out and finally, we were taken outside...

They took us to another room and gave us food. We were crying a lot because Korans were burning inside the Red Mosque which was on fire.

We pleaded with them to let us take the Koran. We were very sad to see them being burnt in front of our own eyes. At sunset we were told that we were going to be sent home, and at night, we left the area...

After meeting my father, I was overcome by grief as I had hoped to be a martyr and come back alive.

Now they've attacked the Red Mosque and Jamia Hafsa [the seminary attached to it], I hope the whole country will have Red Mosques. I will work for jihad, and open a madrassa and train people for jihad.

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific