Radical mosque to reopen in Islamabad

Security was tightened in the Pakistani capital today as officials prepared to reopen the radical mosque where a stand-off with Islamic militants ended in bloodshed more than two weeks ago when troops stormed in.

Security was tightened in the Pakistani capital today as officials prepared to reopen the radical mosque where a stand-off with Islamic militants ended in bloodshed more than two weeks ago when troops stormed in.

Extra police, including elite forces, took up posts around Islamabad, as workers installed airport-style metal detectors at the Red Mosque, or Lal Masjid, to check worshippers for weapons.

Tents were pitched in the courtyard of the mosque to cope with an overflow of worshippers, as thousands were expected to attend traditional midday prayers, as monsoon-season rain drizzled on the city.

Barbed wire ringed part of the complex where militants holed up for a week before government troops launched their assault on July 10, leaving the mosque pocked with bullet holes and damaged by explosions.

At least 102 people were killed in the violence, which has triggered a flare-up in attacks by militants in north-western Pakistan along the border with Afghanistan.

About 200 others have since died in the suicide bombings and clashes, many of them security forces.

The government moved quickly to have the mosque repaired after the siege, amid outrage in the deeply religious country that a sacred place had been the scene of violence.

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