Terror threat: New Zealand hockey team rethinks India trip (Second Lead)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

WELLINGTON - New Zealand’s hockey team, which earlier planned to continue with its trip to the Hockey World Cup in New Delhi despite an Al Qaeda threat against sports events in India, appeared to be having second thoughts Wednesday.

The team is in Australia’s Perth city to play two practice matches Wednesday and Friday, and will then decide if it will travel to India as per schedule for the World Cup that begins Feb 28, New Zealand Herald reported Wednesday.

Hockey New Zealand said while the Black Sticks plan to participate in the tournament, it had decided to keep the players in Perth until further notice.

Hockey NZ chief executive Hilary Poole said the safety of the players, coaches and team management was of significant importance and it made sense to further assess the situation before sending them to New Delhi.

“We have been monitoring this situation all along. But the events over the past 24 hours have led us to reassess the situation,” the paper quoted Poole as saying.

Global terror network Al Qaeda’s Pakistan arm has warned of attacks in India, particularly targeting upcoming international sports events like the Commonwealth Games, the Hockey World Cup and the IPL cricket tournament.

Asia Times Online said it had received a message from Illyas Kashmiri, who heads the 313 Brigade, an operational arm of the Al Qaeda in Pakistan. The message received Monday, two days after the Pune bombing which killed 11 people, warns international players against participating in the mega sports events in India.

DPA earlier quoted New Zealand field hockey officials as saying that the national team would continue with plans to go to India for next week’s scheduled World Cup tournament despite a reported warning from a terrorist group linked to Al Qaeda.

Poole had said earlier the 25-man national squad was preparing to leave Perth for New Delhi Monday.

She had said officials were discussing the threat with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs but the plan to go to the tournament was on.

Poole said: “At this stage we are comfortable, though we are obviously monitoring the situation very closely. Any threat we take very seriously regardless of who it’s from.”

She said discussions were also being held with security advisers for the Australian, English and Canadian teams and advice was being sought from the international organisers of the event.

Filed under: Terrorism

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