Police and seminary students exchange gunfire at the Red Mosque in Islamabad.
He said a huge number of Pakistani troops were massing together.
Burqa escape bid
Abdul Aziz was arrested by security forces on Wednesday night after trying to escape the compound in a burqa, a long enveloping garment worn by Muslim women.
In an interview broadcast on state television on Thursday, he said about 850 students remained inside, including 600 women and girls, and 14 men who were armed with Kalashnikovs.
Abdul Aziz, who was in a burqa, said people still inside would not be able to hold out for long.
Smiling through much of the interview, he said he left the mosque to stop the bloodshed, and had urged others to do the same, but some women teachers had persuaded girls to stay behind.
Ready for talks
Earlier on Thursday, speaking to Al Jazeera’s correspondent, Abdul Rashid said that about 2,000 students remained inside and said the conflict did not need to end in bloodshed.
Abdul Rashid had said on Wednesday that he was prepared to talk with the government, but added: “We will continue to defend ourselves”.
He said the mosque had enough supplies to carry on “until God wants”.
The siege began when the Pakistani army surrounded the mosque on Wednesday, a day after at least 16 people were killed in clashes between security forces and armed activists from the mosque.
|The students carried out provocative acts
over the past six months [AFP]
Liberal politicians had been pressing Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan‘s president, for months to crack down on the brothers running the Red Mosque.
Musharraf himself has accused the mosque of sheltering al-Qaeda members.
The students carried out a series of provocative acts over the past six months, demanding the enforcement of Islamic law, and running a vigilante anti-vice campaign.
Abdul Aziz had also threatened suicide attacks if force was used against his movement.
About 1,200 students walked out of the mosque compound on Wednesday in exchange for a pardon and a payment of $83 (5,000 rupees).
Tariq Azim, the deputy information minister, had said that all women and children would be granted amnesty, but men involved in killings and other crimes as well as mosque leaders would face legal action.
By the time a new deadline for surrender passed shortly after noon on Thursday, only around 66 students had walked out.
One who decided to give up, 15-year-old Maryam Qayyeum, said those who stayed in the religious school “only want martyrdom”.
“They are happy,” she said. “They don’t want to go home.”