Two captive policemen freed in Pakistan

May 24, 2007 at 12:39 PM
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ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, May 24 (UPI) -- Hard-line Muslim clerics in Pakistan Thursday freed the last two of four policemen who had been held hostage in a mosque in Islamabad, reports the BBC.

The four were kidnapped last Friday and held in Islamabad's Red Mosque in reprisal for the arrest of 11 seminary students, who along with the clerics, demand the introduction of Islamic Sharia laws in the capital. The other two policemen were released earlier.

The two released Thursday said they were treated well in captivity, the report said.

"We have released the two policemen on Islamic and humanitarian grounds because their relatives came to us with requests to free them," Abdul Rashid Ghazi, the mosque's prayer leader, was quoted as saying.

Authorities, who had surrounded the mosque, had been coming under intense pressure to take tough measure to end the standoff. Ghazi, however, denied the policemen were freed to avert a police raid.

The clerics and the seminary students have made a number of bold moves, including the latest kidnappings, to press their demands against the government of President Pervez Musharraf. In recent weeks, the emboldened clerics threatened officials that any action against them or their students, many of them women, would draw strong reprisals around the country from their supporters.

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