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Suicide Bomb Attack at Shi'ite Mosque in Northern Pakistan Kills 9

  • VOA News

A suicide bomb attack at a Shi'ite mosque in northwestern Pakistan has killed at least nine people and wounded more than 20 others.

Authorities say the bombing in Peshawar happened Thursday as minority Shi'ites were preparing to observe Ashura, an annual mourning of the death of Prophet Mohammed's grandson.

Witnesses say a teenage boy with a gun entered the crowded (Imambargah) mosque, opened fire, and then blew himself up.

In a television appearance Thursday, President Pervez Musharraf promised to root out religious extremists in Pakistan. He described suicide bombers as "mad people" who are misguided into thinking they are serving Islam.

The Pakistani government says it has ordered a high-level investigation into the attack. Police say the bombing might have been carried out by Sunni extremists linked to the Taliban and al-Qaida.

Separately, Pakistani military officials say Islamic militants have abandoned a fort they captured along the Afghan border in South Waziristan earlier this week.

Several hundred militants attacked the fort at Sararogha town with rocket launchers late Tuesday.

The government says the region is a stronghold for al-Qaida-linked militant leader Baitullah Mehsud, one of Pakistan's most-wanted men. Officials have blamed Mehsud for the December 27th assassination of former prime minister and opposition leader Benazir Bhutto.

Taliban and al-Qaida militants have taken refuge in Pakistan's remote tribal regions along the Afghan border since the United States ousted the Taliban government in Afghanistan in 2001. They have repeatedly targeted Pakistani soldiers with suicide attacks, roadside bombs and kidnappings.

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