Clashes broke out in the Pakistani capital outside Lal Masjid (Red Mosque) Tuesday following prayers, with each side blaming the other for provoking the conflict.
Lal Masjid and some other districts of the Pakistani capital have been placed under curfew, with the police threatening to shoot any armed person. Interior Ministry troops have blocked several key roads in the city, and public transport is stalled.
Government officials and the leaders of Lal Masjid held negotiations last night, which however brought no results.
Deputy Interior Minister Zafar Warriach said everything was ready for a military attack against Lal Masjid and the adjacent area. "The decision to launch a [military operation] will be made after a thorough analysis of the developments," he said.
Major-General Wahid Arshad, spokesman for the Pakistani military, said the army was ready to support the police and interior troops.
Radical students launched a drive to impose a Taliban-style version of Islamic law in the capital, in particular threatening the owners of music and video shops and demanding that "all outlets of video sin" be closed.
"We need real Muslim power: Our state is an Islamic Republic in name only. [President] Musharraf is serving the West and America. He is against real Muslims. We simply want to live according to the laws of our faith," a student named Khakim told a RIA Novosti reporter.
Students purportedly carried out a series of kidnappings of police officers and alleged prostitutes, and threatened suicide attacks if police intervened.