Authorities in the capital were locked in a tense stand-off on Wednesday with students at a religious school who are holding hostage an alleged brothel owner and two policemen.
Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2007
Students of the Jamia Hafsa school in Islamabad said they would only free the hostages if the government releases two of the school’s female teachers and six other detainees including a top rights activist.
Prayer leader of the adjoining Red Mosque, Abdul Aziz, later announced that an accord had reached with the local administration.
“Thanks God the government has accepted our demands. Police will release our two female teachers who will arrive here shortly,” he said over the mosque’s loudspeakers.
“We will then free the two policemen and their vans,” he said adding that the authorities had also promised to free the six other detainees in two weeks time.
Aziz asked the students, including burqa clad females, to retreat to their school. There was no official comment on his statement.
Earlier hundreds of baton-wielding students marched outside the madrassa while others took up positions on the roof of the Red Mosque amid fears of a possible police raid, an AFP reporter said.
“If needed we will march up to police stations and there will be deaths and the government will face the consequences,” Aziz had said in an earlier announcement.
The drama started late on Tuesday when female students at the school abducted the woman they accused of running a “vice den”, along with her daughter and daughter-in-law, from her home, officials at the school said.
The seminary’s vice principal, Abdul Rashid Ghazi, earlier told reporters that the female students were keeping the woman, identified as Shamim, and her companions at the mosque following complaints about their behaviour.
In its only statement so far on the issue, the government confirmed in a statement that the “wife, mother and daughter of a state employee” had been taken from their home in the area.
On Wednesday male madrassa students seized two policemen and their vans, saying it was in retaliation for the arrest of the teachers.
Mosque officials showed reporters police driver Qamar Abbas and Constable Hamad Raza who were being kept by students in a room.
“They have not mistreated us, they have served us tea and allowed us to keep our mobile phones. We are in touch with our officials and we are not facing any problem,” Raza said.
Ghazi had also demanded release of six detainees who are linked to the mosque including Khalid Khwaja, a former intelligence officer-turned-rights activist.