Lal Masjid frees two policemen

Published May 25, 2007

ISLAMABAD, May 24: Lal Masjid students on Thursday freed the two security officials kidnapped on May 18, following the release of several of their colleagues as a result of ‘back channel’ negotiations between clerics of the mosque and the local administration.

Spokesman of the interior ministry Brig Javed Iqbal Cheema, however, claimed that the two policemen of the Islamabad police — Assistant Sub-Inspector Aurangzeb and constable Jehangir — were released ‘unconditionally’. “They have not been released on a reciprocal basis,” he said.

Madressah students on May 18 held hostage four policemen — Assistant Sub-Inspector Aurangzeb, constables Yasir Shah, Iftikhar Ahmed and Raja Jahangir -- accusing them of spying for the government. Two of them were released on May 20.

Maulana Abdul Rashid Ghazi, deputy in-charge of Lal Masjid, said the government had not released those whose list had been provided to the local administration, including three students and former ISI official Khalid Khawaja booked for allegedly burning audio/video CDs in the Barakhau residential area last month.

He said that the policemen had been freed on the request of their family members who visited the mosque on Wednesday. “Women of their families came to us and pleaded for their early release. They told us that the detained police personnel have nothing to do with the confrontation between the government and Lal Masjid,” Maulana Ghazi said.

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