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MOSQUE WHERE 102 DIED WILL REOPEN, PATCHED AND PAINTED

The Red Mosque, where a siege involving Islamic militants ended in a deadly commando raid two weeks ago, will reopen Friday with a new coat of paint - in pale yellow.

Minister for Religious Affairs Ijazul Haq on Thursday led journalists on a tour through the mosque to see the repairs and to announce that worshipers would be allowed to return Friday for the first time since the siege began early this month.

The Red Mosque, or Lal Masjid, and a seminary were scorched by explosions and pocked by bullets after commandos stormed the complex July 10, ending the weeklong takeover by gunmen inside. At least 102 people died in the violence.

The commando raid and the redeployment of the army in Pakistan's violent northwest have prompted a wave of attacks and that have killed scores of security forces and civilians.

But at the mosque, the iron roof that was blasted by explosions has been replaced, and bullet-scarred walls were patched and painted. Minarets gleamed white and the main prayer hall smelled of fresh paint.

Haq said that 50 bodies found in the mosque after the siege were still to be identified.

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