As the siege on Lal Masjid (Red Mosque) in Islamabad continues, the death of Abdul Rashid Ghazi at the hands of Pakistani government forces has caused the government to put Pakistan on "Red Alert," vigilant for an expected backlash from Pakistani Islamists.
Pakistani forces are proceeding cautiously, refusing to simply storm the basement where the remaining Lal Masjid combatants are holed up. The compound has been extensively booby-trapped, especially the pathways leading to where the terrorists have barricaded themselves in a last stand. And so the final Red Mosque confrontation continues for at least another day, perhaps several more.
Reaction to the siege of Lal Masjid in the Pakistani press is mixed, with Islamist outlets condemning the action and others cautiously praising the government's confrontation of pro-Taliban Islamists.
US State Department deputy spokesman Tom Casey said Pakistani authorities had "proceeded in a responsible way on this issue," adding that "ultimately all governments have a responsibility to preserve order and to try and take steps against terrorists and those that commit criminal actions, too."
UPDATE: In unexpectedly rapid succession, Pakistani authorities have declared the Red Mosque cleared of all combatants inside, and the next phase of the operation has commenced: Clearing the compound of booby-traps, mines and other explosives. Maj. Gen. Waheed Arshad said in a phone interview, "The first phase of the operation is over. There are no more militants left inside."