Showdown: Seven dead as Pakistani Rangers clash with jihadist nuts at Red Mosque

Fortuitous timing with this post yesterday, eh? Roggio’s got a full round-up of this morning’s events; sounds like another rout at the hands of barbarians for our man in Islamabad.

Trouble began when student followers of the mosque, including young men with guns and dozens of women wearing black burqas, rushed toward a nearby police checkpoint early Tuesday afternoon.

Police and paramilitary Rangers fired tear gas and, as the students retreated, an Associated Press photographer saw at least four students, some of them masked, fire shots toward security forces about 200 yards away…

The students later set fire to the Ministry of Environment after tearing down a section of the wall around the three-story building near the mosque and pelting it with rocks.

Also torched was the adjacent building belonging to the Capital Development Authority, which oversees Islamabad’s administration.

Some of the students carried gas masks and several were seen with gasoline-filled bottles and Molotov cocktails. About a dozen were armed with guns, including AK-47 assault rifles.

Dozens of stone-throwing students shattered windows of the ministry building, chanting, ”Taliban, long live Taliban.” They later set the building afire.

The Beeb says seven are dead, three of them among the security forces — but a “ceasefire has been negotiated,” you’ll be happy to learn. There’s some question as to who struck first, with the author of yesterday’s bombshell piece in the Asia Times weighing in today to say that Pakistani troops had at last been “let loose” on the mosque as an opening salvo to herald the supposed new offensive in the tribal areas. Needless to say, that’s extremely unlikely given the fact that they’ve already ceased firing. A moment of martial glory:

As soon as the firing started, Aziz announced on the mosque’s loudspeakers that the students should put on suicide jackets and be ready to carry out attacks on any security people entering the mosque.

This spooked the security personnel and they retreated, but were instructed to maintain the siege.

Read the very end of Roggio’s post to see just how far these turds have pushed the envelope lately with no response from Musharraf. This is all part of a larger picture which WaPo fleshes out a bit today — tellingly, in an article about the Glasgow attacks:

The incidents in England and Scotland, counterterrorism officials said, coincide with recent U.S. intelligence indicating stepped-up movement of money and people from al-Qaeda camps in the ungoverned tribal areas of Pakistan, near the Afghan border. Several senior U.S. military officials were sharply critical yesterday of what they saw as the Pakistani government’s unwillingness to move forcefully against the camps and the U.S. administration’s failure to press Pakistan harder to curtail what one called a terrorist “growth industry.”

Al-Qaeda’s “presence in the tribal areas has not been this secure since before 9/11,” one senior U.S. military intelligence official wrote in an e-mail.

Exit question: Is it time to withdraw support for Musharraf and let the chips fall where they may?

Update: Your photo of the day.

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