Negotiations to end the stand off have apparently broken down and a military assault has reportedly begun. A senior military official says the security forces have entered the compound. Hospital officials say at least two troops have been killed and at least seven others injured. The government says hundreds of women and children are being held hostage by a group of "hardcore terrorists" with possible links to al-Qaida. VOA correspondent Benjamin Sand reports from Islamabad.

Huge explosions rocked the mosque early Tuesday morning as hopes for a possible breakthrough faded.

Just before midnight Pakistani Information Minister Muhammad Ali Durrani told reporters negotiators were still working toward ending the seven-day stand-off.

"We are trying our best to minimize the losses, that is why we are in the negotiations," said Muhammad Ali Durrani.

Officials say those talks broke down hours later and fighting erupted outside the mosque.

The government says militants are holding hundreds of women and children as human shields and there are fears of mass casualties.

The mosque's fiery, pro-Taleban leader, Abdul Rashid Ghazi has said everyone in Lal Masjid would rather die fighting than surrender to government forces.