A senior Pakistani military commander has been killed by Islamic militants in the sixth day of a standoff at an Islamabad mosque.
Pakistan's military said that Colonel Haroon Islam died today (Sunday) after an exchange of gunfire with militants holed up behind the walls of the Red Mosque (Lal Masjid).
Government troops have blasted holes in the perimeter walls of the mosque in hopes that dozens of young women who attend a school within the compound could escape. Government officials say up to a thousand people, including women and children, are in the compound.
Cleric Abdul Rashid Ghazi has refused government demands for an unconditional surrender, saying he and his followers would rather die as martyrs. Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf said the militants will be killed if they do not surrender.
Ghazi told Pakistani television that more than 300 people inside the mosque died in Sunday's fighting but government officials denied his claim.