Authorities in Pakistan say a suicide bomb attack at a Shiite mosque in the northwestern city of Peshawar has left at least nine people dead and many others injured. Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.

The deadly attack came as the minority Shiite community of Pakistan was getting ready to mark its annual mourning known as Ashoura.

Doctors say that women and children are among the victims.

The Federal Interior Ministry spokesman, Javed Iqbal Cheema, says the attack occurred when the mosque was crowded with Shiite worshipers.

He says the teenaged suicide attacker detonated the bomb when security guards tried to prevent him from entering the main hall of the mosque.

The government says it has ordered a high-level investigation into the attack. Police say they suspect the bombing might have been carried out by extremists Sunni militants linked to the Taliban and al-Qaida terror networks. Thursday's explosion took place near another Shiite mosque where a suicide attack last year killed at least 11 people.

The blast follows a wave of suicide attacks against Pakistani security forces and politicians in recent months, killing scores of people, including former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

Speaking in a program on the national television, President Pervez Musharraf, an important U.S ally in the war against terrorism, vowed to rid Pakistan of religious extremism.

President Musharraf described suicide bombers as "mad people" who are misguided into thinking they are serving Islam.

The latest violence comes as Pakistanis are gearing up for parliamentary elections next month. The government has advised top politicians to avoid big election rallies citing militant threats to their security.