Zimbabwe to go ahead with tour after suicide attack
The third and final ODI between Zimbabwe and Pakistan in Lahore will go ahead as scheduled after the visiting team had a meeting with PCB and security officials following what federal information minister Pervaiz Rashid said was a suicide attack near Gaddafi Stadium during the second match. Zimbabwe have, however, cancelled their plans to go shopping in the city, even as the security cover around the team has been beefed up.
Two people, including a sub-inspector, were killed and several people injured in the incident. The explosion was initially explained as an electricity transformer blast by police, in a bid to avoid panic. Initially, the players were also told on the way from the stadium to the hotel after the match that it was a low-intensity transformer blast.
"The incident happened away from the main premises and nothing is affected," a PCB spokesman had told ESPNcricinfo ahead of the meeting on Saturday afternoon. "The tour will go ahead as planned and the Zimbabwe team will continue with their usual activities today, though they are not training today. They will play the third match on Sunday and subsequently will fly back in the wee hours of Monday."
Rashid had said that an attempt to attack the stadium was foiled by a police official, who lost his life while trying to stop the attacker. However, Amin Wains, the Capital City Police Officer, said he was not in a position to confirm the nature of the blast.
"At this point of time its not possible for me confirm or say something conclusive that whether it is a suicide attack or cylinder blast," Wains said. "All evidence collected says that most probably a cylinder blast took place in the three-wheeler autorickshaw. We have sent all the evidence to the forensic lab to confirm the nature of the blast.
"There was a statement from the (federal) government which came without speaking to us whether it was a suicide or cylinder blast but as a city police chief within 48 hours we will share all with you.
"Most important it took place outside the red zone which was created for the team. So there was absolutely no abnormality inside or outside the stadium as things were moving normally throughout. Everyone knows that it is a minor sort of incident, although it took two innocent lives, but had it been a suicide the casualties could have been much more than this.
"We have beefed up our security and enhanced our red zone area. We have the resolve and the capacity to provide full security to the honourable members of the Zimbabwe team. They are heroes, we treat them like heroes. We are very delighted that they are visiting our country and this nation is very happy."
The incident took place beside the first checkpost for public entry to the ground, near the outermost ring of the three-tier security of Nishtar Park complex at Ferozpur road, about 800 metres from the Gaddafi Stadium. It was audible to those in the ground and even inside the enclosed press box.
The match remained unaffected after the blast while the paramilitary forces guarding the first layer cordoned off the area. Within 30 minutes, the entire area in the radius of 2 km was locked down and closed for general traffic.
Federation of International Cricketers' Association (FICA) had warned against playing in Pakistan ahead of the series and their executive chairman Tony Irish maintained that stand: "This was a tragic loss of life over cricket and demonstrates that the security situation remains unmanageable and the risks of touring Pakistan are unacceptable. I am very surprised Zimbabwe are staying on to play the third ODI."