Pakistani troops attempted to flush out holdouts entrenched inside a women's religious school after raiding Islamabad's Red Mosque in fierce fighting Tuesday that left about 50 militants and eight soldiers dead, the army said.
Click here to see photos of the siege
Commandos stormed the mosque compound before dawn, and more than eight hours later were still trying to root out the well-armed defenders said to be holding about 150 hostages.
Officials said at least 20 women had emerged from the complex as well as 27 children.
The troops moved in a week after the outbreak of fighting between security forces and supporters of hardline clerics at the mosque, who had tried to impose Taliban-style rule in the capital through a six-month campaign of kidnappings and threats.
At least 67 people have been killed since July 3.
The vigilante anti-vice campaign, led by hardline clerics with alleged links to outlawed militant groups, has proved an embarrassment to President Gen. Pervez Musharraf, a key U.S.-ally in its war on terror, and underlined his administration's failure to control extremist religious schools.
Rescuers found the pilot of one of the two Su-34 fighters that had collided in midair in the Far East on January 18