Pakistani commandos blew holes in the walls of a mosque compound on Sunday in hope hundreds of women and children could escape, while security forces besieged a revolutionary cleric leading Islamist gunmen inside. Troops have surrounded the Lal Masjid, or Red Mosque, in Islamabad since Tuesday.
Heavy exchanges of fire erupted on Friday between Islamist militants holed up in a Pakistani mosque and security forces after the militants' leader said he and his hundreds of followers would rather die than surrender. Earlier, gunmen fired at Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf's plane as it took off from Islamabad's military airport.
Pakistan's biggest city was tense but quiet on Sunday a day after at least 34 people were killed when pro-government and opposition activists clashed as the country's suspended top judge tried to meet supporters. A judicial crisis over government attempts to remove Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry has escalated into the worst political street violence Pakistan has seen since the 1980s.