Bomb threats fail to deter World Cup security

Published: Friday, February 14, 2003, 3:40 [IST]
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Cape Town: Security managers for the ongoing cricket World Cup in South Africa received a number of bomb threats even as the opening ceremony of the mega event rolled on as per plans. Police said they received several "telephonic bomb threats" during the ceremony but took a calculated risk and ignored them as numerous VVIPs enjoyed the inaugural event at Newlands last weekend.

Several threats were made during the night but senior police officials at the venue decided not to evacuate the threatened area. Among the dignitaries watching the opening ceremony were South African President Thabo Mbeki, former President Nelson Mandela, Sports Minister Ngconde Balfour, ICC president Malcolm Gray and over 25,000 spectators. Ali Bacher, chairman of the World Cup organising committee, confirmed the threats but said they had "top security arrangements in place", a local newspaper 'Cape Argus' reported on Thursday.

"These calls were hoaxes. I can assure the spectators all venues are safe environments," the newspaper quoted Bacher as saying. Every World Cup venue is equipped with an operations centre, which is aided by intelligence and disaster management units, he said. After receiving the threats, all decisions were taken in accordance with the standing procedures outlined for the event.

"Evacuation is one of the measures that may be considered, but is not an automatic procedure and not one that would be taken lightly, as it could have serious implications," Western Cape police spokesperson Denise Brand said when asked the reasons for not evacuating the venue of the opening ceremony. "Bomb threats are received regularly and in every case a criminal docket is opened and a investigation conducted," she said. Brand refused to comment on whether the hoax callers were identified and traced.

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