Suicide bomber kills two at Zimbabwe cricket match: Pakistan minister

Police inspect the site of a blast that occurred during the cricket match between Pakistan and Zimbabwe, near Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore, Pakistan. Image by: STRINGER / REUTERS
Police inspect the site of a blast that occurred during the cricket match between Pakistan and Zimbabwe, near Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore, Pakistan. Image by: STRINGER / REUTERS

A Pakistani minister admitted on Saturday that a suicide bomber was responsible for an explosion outside Lahore’s Gaddafi Stadium that killed two people during a Pakistan-Zimbabwe cricket match, despite police insisting the explosion was accidental.

Friday’s incident, which triggered a news blackout in Pakistani media, came despite heavy security for the country’s first cricket series on home soil since an attack on the Sri Lankan team bus in March 2009.

Police inspect the site of a blast that occurred during the cricket match between Pakistan and Zimbabwe, near Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore, Pakistan. Image by: STRINGER / REUTERS
Police inspect the site of a blast that occurred during the cricket match between Pakistan and Zimbabwe, near Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore, Pakistan.
Image by: STRINGER / REUTERS

“The suicide bomber failed to enter the stadium due to the bravery of our police,” Information Minister Pervez Rashid told private broadcaster Geo.

The attack took place about 1.5 kilometres (one mile) from the venue at “the outer security cordon of the stadium”, Rashid said, adding that it did not affect the match.

Security has been ratcheted up for the series with around 4,000 policemen guarding the stadium itself, and a further 2,000 along the route from the Zimbabwe team hotel to the venue.

The series, comprised of two Twenty20 matches and three one-day internationals, is the first since the 2009 attack on the Sri Lankan team left eight people dead.

After winning both Twenty20 matches, Pakistan also clinched the one-day series by chasing down a target of 269 in 47.2 overs in Friday’s meet.

The third and final one-day is to be played at the same venue on Sunday.

Despite Rashid’s comments, Lahore police insisted on Saturday that the incident was an “accidental blast” caused by an auto rickshaw’s gas cylinder exploding.

“It was a gas cylinder explosion and not a terrorist act,” a police spokesman told AFP. He said one policeman and the rickshaw driver died.

Police had earlier said the blast was a transformer explosion.

The news was blacked out in Pakistani media until the conclusion of the match in order to prevent panic, a decision Rashid praised in his remarks to Geo.

SOURCE: TIMES LIVE