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Islamics protest musharraf after crackdown { June 2007 }

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AFX News Limited
Thousands of Pakistanis protest against govt over Islamabad mosque battle
07.03.07, 1:07 PM ET

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (Thomson Financial) - Thousands of Pakistani hardliners staged protests against what they said was a government crackdown on an Islamabad mosque in which nine people were killed.

More than 3,000 religious students chanting slogans against President Pervez Musharraf rallied in the conservative northern town of Mingora to denounce the violence at the Lal Masjid, or Red Mosque, witnesses said.

'The government must stop the operation against Lal Masjid,' local religious leader Maulana Fazal Ullah told the rally.

Another 250 Islamists burned tyres and blocked a main road for half an hour in the southwestern city of Quetta, near the border with Afghanistan.

'The government is targeting the madrassas (Islamic schools) to appease the Americans,' MP and protest leader Maulana Noor Mohammad said.

Musharraf is a key ally in the US-led 'war on terror' but his support for the US-led invasion of Afghanistan to topple the Taliban in 2001 has angered Islamists across Pakistan.

Qazi Hussain Ahmed, leader of Pakistan's main alliance of hardline parties, the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal, or United Action Front, said the incident would cause nationwide unrest.

'We condemn this ill-conceived act which will bring disaster and anarchy to the country,' the MMA chief told a party gathering in the central city of Muzaffargarh.

Copyright AFX News Limited 2007. All rights reserved.

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