Christchurch – Bangladesh’s Test cricketers were just a few minutes from being caught up in Friday’s massacre in New Zealand when they arrived at a Christchurch mosque as shooting began, a team spokesperson said.
“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 in Christchurch.
“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.
“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 spokesperson 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.
Opening batsman Tamim Iqbal called the near-miss “frightening”, while team-mate Mushfiqur Rahim tweeted: “We r extremely lucky…never want to see this things happen again….pray for us.”
“Just escaped active shooters!!! Heartbeats pumping badly and panic everywhere!!” posted Bangladesh high performance analyst Shrinivas Chandrasekaran.
The third and final Test match of Bangladesh’s tour, scheduled to start in Christchurch on Saturday, was quickly scrapped.
“Inshallah (God willing) everyone who’s been killed today… you guys are all in paradise,” he said, wiping away tears as he spoke.
“Just deeply, deeply saddened that this would happen in New Zealand.”
Record-breaking ex-All Blacks flyhalf Dan Carter, a long-time player for Christchurch’s Crusaders team, tweeted: “Sending love to everyone in Christchurch right now.”
“Our thoughts and sympathies are with everyone affected by today’s tragedy. Stay strong. Kia Kaha.”
And Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, a former star cricketer, tweeted: “This reaffirms what we have always maintained: that terrorism does not have a religion.”
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