Bangladesh team manager Khaled Mashud says his players were about to enter the Christchurch mosque when they heard gunshots and stopped; New Zealand tour called off
A female police officer guards the area close to the Masjid al Noor mosque after a shooting incident in Christchurch yesterday. Pic/AFP
Bangladesh’s Test cricketers were just a few minutes from being caught up in yesterday’s massacre in New Zealand when they arrived at a Christchurch mosque as shooting began, a team spokesman said. In a chilling account, Khaled Mashud described how most of the Bangladeshi team drove up to the Masjid al Noor in a bus just as the attack got underway. At least 49 people died in attacks on two mosques during Friday prayers in what appeared to be the worst assault on Muslims in a Western country.
‘We were very close’
“We were very close, we could see the mosque. We were maximum 50 yards away. I would say we are very lucky,” Mashud told reporters here. “If we were there three to four minutes earlier, we would have been in the mosque, massive thing might have happened.” Mashud said about 17 Bangladeshi players and team staff on the bus watched as blood-soaked victims staggered from the building. “It looked like video, what we usually see in a movie. From the bus we saw bloodied people coming out of the mosque,” he said. “We were in the bus about eight to 10 minutes. We kept our heads down in the bus, in case of any firing [towards them].
“Later we realised terrorists could come out and attack us, they would get then the lot of us in the bus and big incident would happen. Then we all decided to leave the bus.” A Bangladesh cricket reporter posted footage of grim-faced players walking briskly from the scene as a police car with sirens wailing speeded in the other direction. Bangladesh Cricket Board spokesman Jalal Yunus later said the team were “shocked” but unharmed and had been ordered to stay in the team hotel. “They are safe. But they are mentally shocked. We have asked the team to stay confined in the hotel,” Yunus told AFP.
The above video grab tweeted by a Bangladeshi journalist shows the players escorted back to the hotel
Third Test scrapped
The third and final Test match of Bangladesh’s tour, scheduled to start in Christchurch on Saturday, was quickly scrapped.
When violence and sport mixed in lethal fashion
1972 Munich Olympics
On September 5, 1972, 11 Israeli athletes and coaches were taken hostage and eventually murdered by terrorists during a 16-hour ordeal. The world witnessed some chilling images of athletes held captive on gunpoint.
1987 NZ tour of SL (cricket)
It was to be a three-Test tour but New Zealand abandoned it after the first match when a bomb planted by separatists exploded near the team hotel in Colombo, killing 113 civilians.
2002 NZ tour of Pakistan (cricket)
New Zealand’s cricket team was touring Pakistan in 2002 when a bomb went off outside their hotel, killing 12. The players were unscathed but the NZ Board called back the team. A year earlier, NZ were on their way to Pakistan for a series before heading back midway owing to the 9/11 terror attacks in USA. The series was abandoned.
2009 SL tour of Pak (cricket)
The Sri Lankan team were on its way to play Day 3 of the second Test against Pakistan at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore when its team bus was intercepted by at least a dozen terrorists. They fired at the bus, resulting in injuries to six SL players and the death of the bus driver. Six policemen and two civillians were also killed. The SL team returned home and Pakistan hasn’t hosted a major international tie since then.
2010 African Nations Cup (Football)
Togo’s national football side were travelling through Cabinda in Angola for the African Nations Cup when their team bus came under gun fire from separatists. The team’s assistant manager and media officer were killed.