Kiwis reach SA, not be drawn on Kenya safety fears

Published: Wednesday, January 29, 2003, 21:02 [IST]
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Johannesburg: New Zealand skipper Stephen Fleming and his team jetted into Johannesburg on Tuesday afternoon brimming with quiet confidence, but they would not be drawn on safety fears for their fixture in Kenya. The Black Caps arrived in South Africa hours after the team said fears of terror attacks could keep them away from their World Cup match in Nairobi on February 21.

"I don't think it's fair that the players should voice their opinion either way. There are experts on governing bodies that have to operate that way," a relaxed- looking Fleming told reporters at Johannesburg International Airport. "We trust that process as players and if we can, just look forward to the cricket. It's the pinnacle for any player to play in the World Cup." Team manager Jeff Crowe said, "With regards to Kenya, we don't want to comment at this stage. The ICC (International Cricket Council) is doing its due diligence on that. "We'll be waiting for the end of the week when a call will be made by the ICC.

At that point New Zealand Cricket will discuss what comes out of it." But New Zealand Cricket (NZC) chief executive Martin Snedden said earlier on Tuesday in Wellington that they had received information which strongly suggested it was not safe for the New Zealand team to travel to Nairobi. Snedden said a decision whether the team would play in Kenya would come Thursday from the International Cricket Council (ICC), which had sent a security team to the east African country to analyse the security situation. He added the current situation suggests there are active terror groups operating in Kenya which has the means and capability of launching a terrorist attack, possibly against other Western targets.

"The information indicates that Kenyan authorities are not capable of providing adequate security," he added. But World Cup organiser Ali Bacher countered by saying a senior South African police team went to Nairobi and had compiled a report on the security situation there. He said at about 2.00 pm (12:00 GMT) he was briefed by a senior South African police official. "They have given me a comprehensive report. I have spoken to (ICC chief executive) Malcolm Speed who is distributing this report to members of the ICC board," Bacher said.

"The contents are obviously confidential, but in simple terms it is a positive report." Kenya has been hit twice by terror attacks linked to the al-Qaida network. In 1998, more than 200 people were killed when the US embassies in Nairobi and Dar- es-Salaam were bombed and last November, 11 people were killed in a car bombing attack on a hotel in the coastal city Mombasa.

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