BUCHAREST, DEC. 23 -- As fighting continued in the streets here today, Romanian television reported that toppled Communist leader Nicolae Ceausescu, his wife and a brother were captured along with others from the former leader's staff and would be prosecuted by the emerging new government. The fighting raged into the evening as an elite group of security forces loyal to Ceausescu used underground tunnels and hidden stashes of ammunition to move around the city and snipe at Romanian army soldiers supporting the new government. The announcement about Ceausescu, made by Ion Iliescu, a member of the new National Salvation Committee transitional government, did not say where the 71-year-old former leader, his wife, Elena, and his brother, Gen. Ilie Ceausescu, were captured or where they are being held, nor did the Ceausescus appear on television. The new government has promised to bring Ceausescu and his family -- who are hated here for having repressed and impoverished this country over the past 24 years -- before a court of law and not to allow mob justice. There were reports of major battles today in the central industrial city of Brasov, north of Bucharest, and in the western city of Timisoara, where security forces reportedly parachuted tonight from three helicopter gunships. It was in Timisoara last weekend that a mass protest -- and the massacre of several thousand people -- ignited a one-week revolution in which unarmed citizens stood up to machine-gun fire and brought down the last Communist dictator in the Warsaw Pact. Here in Bucharest, witnesses said today, about 1,000 young protesters were gunned down Thursday night by security forces, who then returned to remove the bodies and erase all evidence of the massacre. As evening fell here, the skyline of central Bucharest was veiled in black smoke from fires ignited by thousands of rounds of ammunition expended here in more than 24 hours of continuous fighting. Army troops, using tanks and armored personnel carriers, were trying today to blast out pockets of the security force called Securitate, whose troops continued to spray gunfire down on the streets from rooftops and windows. To help overcome the fierce resistance of the Securitate, the new leadership said on television today that it had asked for reinforcements from the Soviet Union. In Moscow, a Soviet spokesman told reporters that he knew nothing about a request for military assistance. President Mikhail Gorbachev told the Soviet legislature that Moscow had been in contact with Warsaw Pact allies about what might be done to help the Romanians. Despite the fighting, Western diplomats and many Romanians said that the new leadership, an ad hoc group of former Communist officials, intellectuals and dissidents calling themselves the National Salvation Committee, had the full support of the people and regular army forces. They said a total defeat of the security forces was inevitable. "It is only a matter of time," several diplomats said. At midday, army commanders went on television to warn civilians to get off the streets so that helicopter gunships and tanks could attack the snipers, but thousands stayed out to watch the fighting. Crowds of young Romanians, chanting, "Come with us, come with us," and waving Romanian flags from which the Communist star had been cut out, jumped atop tanks as they rolled into the city center. Many civilians offered the soldiers tea and food as they cheered again, "Army with us, army with us." Security forces were apparently moving through the city using secret underground tunnels that gave them access to large supplies of ammunition. The Securitate, which was trained as the guarantor of Ceausescu's dictatorial power, always has been given better equipment and better training than the regular army. There were appeals on television today, which is in the hands of the new government, for ammunition for army troops fighting in cities outside the capital. Television also appealed to architects and builders in Bucharest to disclose the location of the secret tunnels. A commander of the Securitate force, Gen. Tudor Postelnicu, who was captured during the night, said on television today that his forces should surrender at once. His order, however, was ignored by hundreds of snipers around the city. There were fears that the Securitate may start breaking into homes and taking hostages. As security forces continued to rain machine-gun fire down on the streets, witnesses gave chilling accounts today of Thursday night's massacre in central Bucharest -- and of attempts to cover it up -- that were apparently orchestrated by the Securitate. The killings followed a pro-Ceausescu rally that turned against the dictator as he addressed the crowd at midday from a balcony. The witnesses, doctors and nurses who watched the massacre from a window overlooking the city's central University Square, said the shooting began at 10:30 p.m. after a prolonged standoff between security forces and unarmed students. With the students silhouetted by spotlights from nearby buildings, Securitate forces opened fire at close range with machine guns, the nurses and doctors said. They said that about 1,000 people fell as the shooting started and several hundred others started running for cover. "The security men went in among the wounded and started bayoneting them and butting them with their guns," said Tonescu Aurelia Lucia, a nurse from nearby Coltea Hospital. She watched the killings from a fourth-floor window. "There were also snipers on the roof of nearby buildings and they shot many protesters in the back." Doctors at the hospital said that most of the 85 civilians they have treated for gunshot wounds in the past three days had been shot in the back. After the shooting stopped on Thursday at 11:45 p.m., covered military trucks were quickly driven to the square, hospital staff said. They said the security men who had shot the protesters hurriedly loaded the bodies, each of which was carefully stripped of its identity card before being tossed into the trucks. The bodies have not been found. Street-cleaning machines then were dispatched to the area to wash away the blood, hospital witnesses said. The only visible evidence of the massacre remaining on Friday morning were large brownish stains of dried blood in subway entrances near the square. A few score protesters managed to flee to the nearby hospital, where they were hidden by doctors and nurses. Nurse Lucia said she later saw two of the protesters shot to death -- in the back -- when they tried to sneak away from the hospital in the middle of the night. "It was like some kind of nightmare, what I have seen. The bodies were piled into trucks and made to disappear. In the morning the streets were cleaned to look normal," Lucia said. The behavior of the Securitate in the Thursday massacre and in the fighting that continues here is a measure, according to many Romanians interviewed in the streets, of their fear of being killed by the Romanian people. Romania's revolution has turned out to be so bloody because of the desperate resistance of these secret policemen. In other East European countries, which have undergone peaceful political upheavals, the secret police forces were disbanded. "They are all murderers. They are frightened and they know it is the end," said Andrew Pippidi, a historian at the University of Bucharest's Institute for Southeast European Studies. Pippidi said that many of the Securitate were orphans adopted by the Ceausescu security apparatus and raised to defend the regime. One Western diplomat compared the group to Hitler's elite SS troops. Late last week, when street protesters tried to question the young security men about why they would kill their fellow countrymen, they refused to make eye contact and said nothing. "At age 16 they are already perfect killers. We knew about this since years before. That is why we were so afraid of a revolution," said Pippidi. Across the country today there were reports that Securitate forces were moving around regional cities in small, well-disciplined groups. In Brasov they reportedly occupied a hospital and shot several civilians. In Timisoara Friday night, the security forces disguised themselves as civilians and carried automatic weapons under their coats as they entered the main square. Then, according to Western news reports from the city today, they opened fire on civilians. Doctors in Bucharest have told reporters that several hundred people have been killed in the past two days' fighting. Early this morning, a French television reporter was killed in Palace Square in the city's center. Jean Louis Calderon, 31, a reporter for Television 5 in Paris, was crushed accidentally by a government tank amid heavy fighting. There are about 400 or 500 injured people at the city's airport, awaiting emergency medical aid -- but heavy fighting there today prevented planes from landing. The city's blood bank was blown up in the fighting, creating a severe shortage of blood. Doctors at one Bucharest hospital said today they were also short of anesthetics needed for surgery. Truckloads of blood plasma, along with other medical supplies, are scheduled to be brought into the city Sunday from Hungary. The new leadership, which many people in the streets say they are eager to support, has outlined a program that abandons the leading role of the Romanian Communist Party, calls for free elections in April, guarantees human rights and limits all elected leaders to two terms in office. In addition, the program calls for an immediate end to Ceausescu's widely condemned program of relocating peasant farmers from their villages into new high-rise apartments. Other proposals of the National Salvation Committee include the removal of communism from school curriculums and a free market economic reform program along the lines of those adopted this year in other Eastern Bloc countries that have undergone far more peaceful revolutions than in Romania. The apparent author of the program, and the individual who has emerged as the first among equals on a ruling committee that includes at least 15 names, is Iliescu, 59, who was booted out of the party's Central Committee in 1984 for advocating more openness than Ceausescu could abide. He is described in the 1989 edition of "Who's Who in the Socialist Countries of Eastern Europe" as Gorbachev's first choice to lead Romania. Iliescu said on television that the committee will serve only as an interim government and will dissolve itself when elections are held. In University Square this afternoon, near the spot where about 1,000 unarmed people were shot to death Thursday night, an automotive engineer and his wife came to applaud the army tanks that finally were on their side. "We waited for 24 years," said Robert Timotin, 41. "The last 10 or 15 years were bad, every year worse. It was very hard to live, to find food. But the last thing on our minds was the food. The first thing was that our liberty, our words, were taken away. Romania was like a great glass with water full to the brim. We could not take anymore."