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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

700 Religious Students Yield at Besieged Pakistani Mosque

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- Leaders of a besieged radical mosque in the Pakistani capital remained defiant as a deadline calling for their immediate surrender passed Wednesday, a day after clashes there killed at least 16 people.

More than 700 of their followers, however, surrendered as government troops with armored personnel carriers tightened their stranglehold on the Lal Masjid, or Red Mosque, in the heart of Islamabad, said the capital's top security official, Khalid Pervez.

By evening, the numbers of militants emerging from the mosque and women's seminary was decreasing. The number remaining inside the complex was not known.

"They can be a few hundred, they can be more than that," the minister of information told reporters.

One of those who decided to give up, Maryam Qayyeum, 15, said many were not leaving the seminary.

"They are happy. They only want martyrdom," she said.

The militants had been ordered to lay down their arms and surrender by 11 a.m.

All women and children will be granted amnesty, but males involved in killings and other crimes as well as the top mosque leaders would face legal action, Deputy Information Minister Tariq Azim said.

"The deadline has expired but we are not going to start any action immediately. We do not want bloodshed," Azim said.

He said the government was giving 5,000 rupees ($83.61) to each person who surrenders to help them return home.

As the deadline passed, the mosque's deputy leader, Abdul Rashid Ghazi, said he was prepared to talk with the government but added, "We will continue to defend ourselves."