Tensions grew around a madrassa religious school and mosque in Islamabad onl Wednesday as Islamic teachers and students held three police officers and three women hostage over the arrest of several colleagues.
Several thousand mainly female students surrounded the Jamia Hafsa madrassa and Lal Masjid, or red mosque, in the city centre to ward of any attempt by police to force their way through to the captives, who were taken into the building amid a dispute about alleged brothels located in the area.
Veiled and masked students armed with sticks chanted anti- government slogans and demanded Islamic law in the country as negotiators brokered the release of the officers and detained teachers and students.
But by late evening three women, said to be the manager of an alleged brothel and two relatives, were still being held in the school. The students were demanding that charges be brought against them.
Police initiated a case against students for abducting the women while paramilitary units manned cordons around the complex, a known hotbed of militant support for the struggle against international forces in Afghanistan.
The stand-off began the previous evening when madrassa students detained the manager with the intent of “reforming” her. Police had ignored requests from the school to close the establishment, they said.