A soldier stands guard inside a mosque after a bomb blast in Peshawar on March 4, 2022. AFP
A Daesh suicide bomber who killed 64 people at a Shiite mosque in northwest Pakistan last week was an Afghan exile who returned home to train for the attack, police said on Wednesday.
Two senior Pakistan police officials told AFP that the suicide bomber responsible for Friday's Peshawar blast had prepared the attack in Afghanistan.
It was claimed by Daesh, whose Daesh-Khorasan (Daesh-K) affiliate has been active for years in both Pakistan and Afghanistan, where it is in violent competition with the Taliban.
The officials said the attacker was an Afghan national in his 30s who moved to Pakistan with his family decades ago.
"The bomber went (back) to Afghanistan, trained there and returned without informing his family," one of the senior police officials said. "Daesh-Khorasan is becoming a strong threat for us, they are operating from Afghanistan but they have sleeping cells here," he added.
Taliban officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Muhammad Amir Rana, director of the Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS), said there was "a lot of apprehension" in the international community over the prospect of Afghanistan becoming a haven for militancy.
While the Taliban can rein in sister groups like Al Qaeda — which carried out the 9/11 attacks – "they cannot guarantee they will do the same about the groups which are not under their control like Daesh-K," he said. "There are a lot of questions on the Taliban's ability to govern Afghanistan," said Rana.
Police said they had killed three "facilitators" of the Peshawar attack in an overnight operation, and arrested 20 others suspected of involvement.
Daesh also claimed responsibility for what it said was a suicide blast on Tuesday that killed seven paramilitary troops near a site in southwestern Pakistan where the president had visited less than half an hour earlier.
Since the Taliban's return to power in Afghanistan, Islamabad has acted as a key broker between the hardliners and the international community.
Rana suggested Daesh-K may be intensifying attacks in Pakistan in order to "increase pressure on the Taliban in Afghanistan" from Islamabad.
Female relatives and children wailed and beat their chests at family homes as the dead were taken for funerals, following local customs. Hundreds of men followed the caskets to mosques and open areas for special funeral prayers and then into the hills for burial.
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