Deash claims Quetta mosque blast, says target was Afghan Taliban

Soldiers stand guard at the premises of a mosque after a bomb blast in Quetta on January 10, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 11 January 2020

Deash claims Quetta mosque blast, says target was Afghan Taliban

  • Two Taliban sources confirm the mosque and attached religious seminary belong to the Taliban
  • Senior police official among 14 people killed in Friday evening blast

LARKANA/ISLAMABAD: At least 14 people, including a deputy superintendent of police, were killed and 19 others were injured in an explosion at a mosque in Quetta, Friday evening, the officials said.
“The blast occurred during Maghrib prayers at a mosque in Ghousabad neighborhood,” Quetta police chief Abdullah Afridi told Arab News, adding that Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Amanullah was among the victims.
He said it was too early to say if the police officer was the target of the attack as “the nature of the blast is yet to be ascertained.”
Deash claimed responsibility of the attack in a statement issued Friday night saying it had targeted the Afghan Taliban. The suicide bomber, according to the statement, was a man named Abu Jarrah al-Balouchi.
Meanwhile, two Afghan Taliban confirmed to Arab News that the mosque and the attached religious school belonged to the Taliban chief justice, Sheikh Abdul Hakeem, who is considered an influential leader in the Taliban hierarchy.
The Taliban said that Hakeem’s brother was killed in the blast while his son was in critical condition.
"The brother of Sheikh sahib and four or five other people have embraced martyrdom. Maulvi Abdul Ali, son of Sheikh sahib is critically injured," a Taliban leader said in an audio message sent in Pashto language to other Taliban figures – a copy of which has been received by Arab News.
However, Taliban spokesman Qari Muhammad Yousaf said, "None of the Taliban leaders was present in the mosque. No meeting was taking place there. Any reports suggesting so are untrue."
The authorities in Quetta said that the injured “have been brought to the (Quetta) civil hospital,” Dr. Waseem Baig, spokesman of the government-run health facility, told Arab News. He confirmed that 14 people died in the explosion and another 19 were injured.
The Pakistan army’s military wing said that FC Balochistan troops reached Quetta blast site, the area has been cordoned off and a joint search operation with the police was in progress.
Friday attack in Quetta was widely condemned by the government.

Prime Minister Imran Khan has strongly condemned the attack and expressed grief over loss of precious lives, a statement released by the Prime Minister’s Office on Friday reads. Khan instructed best medical facilities to be provided to the injured.
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi also condemned the terrorist attack terming it a “vile conspiracy to destabilize Pakistan.” Expressing his profound condolences to the families of the victims, the foreign minister said that “Mosques & places of worship are sacred places and their sanctity must be respected by all,” according to a statement issued by the foreign ministry.  
Earlier, on Tuesday, two people were killed and 18 others injured in another blast in Quetta, when a vehicle of the Frontier Corps (FC) was targeted with a bomb planted on the McConaghey Road of the city.
According to reports, the security personnel were on routine patrol when an improvised explosive device (IED) was detonated.

South Africa's Du Plessis says bubble life is not sustainable for players

Updated 23 January 2021

South Africa's Du Plessis says bubble life is not sustainable for players

  • South Africa's Du Plessis says bubble life is not sustainable for players
  • The South African player beleives Babar Azam and Shaheen Afridi can pose problems for his team

ISLAMABAD: South African cricketer Faf du Plessis believes spending months in a bio-secure bubble could soon become a major challenge for players.

“We understand that this is a very tough season and a tough challenge for a lot of people out there, but if it’s back-to-back-to-back bubble life, things would become a big challenge,” du Plessis said during a virtual news conference on Saturday.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, cricketers have to adhere to strict procedures for an international series. In countries like Pakistan, international games are being played in empty stadiums and players' movement confined to just their hotel and stadiums.

Du Plessis is one of those South African cricketers, along with captain Quinton de Kock, to have experienced life in a bubble over the last few months. He played in the Indian Premier League in the United Arab Emirates and home series against Sri Lanka. Now he has a two-test series in Pakistan, starting Tuesday in Karachi, followed by the second test at Rawalpindi.

“The main priority is to play cricket, to be out there doing what we love instead of being at home … so I think that still remains the most important thing. But I think there would definitely come a point where players would struggle with this (bubble)," du Plessis said.

“If you look at a calendar of the last eight months, you’re looking at about four or five months in a bubble, which is a lot. For some of us (being) without family, it can get challenging. Right now, I’m still in a good place. I’m still feeling really motivated and driven, but I can only speak for myself.

“I don’t think it’s possible to continue from bubble to bubble to bubble, I’ve seen and heard a lot of players talk about it. I don’t think it’s sustainable.”

The South African team practiced at the National Stadium -- the venue for the test opener -- for the first time on Saturday. Before that, the visitors had been practicing at a stadium close to the team hotel for the last four days where they played intra-squad matches.

“For now, (I'm) enjoying the four walls of my room and then the pitch outside where we can get to do what we love,” du Plessis said.

The 36-year-old du Plessis, who has appeared in 67 test matches for South Africa with a batting average topping 40, will be playing his first test in Pakistan since making his debut against Australia in 2012. Pakistan last hosted South Africa in 2007. In 2009 international cricket’s doors were shut on Pakistan after an attack on the Sri Lanka cricket team bus at Lahore.

Du Plessis has played seven test matches against Pakistan that included two in the UAE and five in South Africa.

Du Plessis is South Africa’s most experienced player touring Pakistan, but wasn’t sure what type of wickets will be prepared for the two tests.

“I think that’s possibly the biggest thing that we are unsure about,” he said.

“As a team we try to prepare for everything and anything, overprepare, spin conditions, reverse swinging ball … if I have to call it, I probably said I think that wickets will be a bit more subcontinent like than it used to be back then (in 2007), so spinners would probably be more a little bit more in the game.”

Du Plessis has picked fit-again Pakistan all-format captain Babar Azam and fast bowler Shaheen Afridi as the two players who could pose problems for the tourists. Babar has regained fitness from a fractured thumb — in his absence Pakistan lost both the Twenty20 and test series in New Zealand.

“Obviously, having Babar back is massive for them,” du Plessis said.

“Afridi has been getting a lot of wickets, so probably someone like him would be pretty dangerous.”