Indian agents check security in Dhaka

Published: Tuesday, December 7, 2004, 23:53 [IST]
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Dhaka:A top security team from New Delhi assessed arrangements to protect Indian cricketers in Bangladesh after alleged Islamic threats to kill the stars delayed the start of their tour, officials said.

A threat in the name of a little-known radical Islamic group calling itself Harkat-ul-Zihad has cast doubt over the opening Test set for Thursday in the capital Dhaka.

The Bangladeshi government and cricketing officials have dismissed the threat as a hoax and sought to reassure Indian authorities.

"The security team met home ministry officials last night and today they will go to the hotel where the cricketers will be staying and to the stadium," said R. A. Mamoon, chairman of the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) media committee.

"They will suggest any extra security requirements they think necessary. There is no problem for us, we are eagerly awaiting to receive the Indian team," he said on Tuesday.

A five-member Indian team of senior government and cricketing officials arrived in Dhaka Monday.

"The team will see all the aspects of the security arrangements and make a decision, maybe by tonight," Neeta Bhushan, first secretary of the Indian High Commission (embassy) in Dhaka, told AFP .

The commission reported the threat on Sunday, saying it was received in a hand-written fax.

Bangladeshi authorities suspect the locally based Harkat-ul-Zihad was behind an assassination bid on leading secular poet Shamsur Rahman here in 1998.

The fax said that if the cricket team visited Bangladesh, they would be killed in revenge for riots in the western Indian state of Gujarat in early 2002 which left at least 2,000 people dead -- most of them Muslims.

"In revenge for the killing of 2,000 Muslims in Gujarat, we are going to kill Indian cricketers if they visit Bangladesh," Indian High Commission officials quoted the letter as saying.

The Indian team, which had been due to arrive on Tuesday, is scheduled to play two Tests and three One-dayers.

The first Test was set for Dhaka from December 9 and the second match in the eastern port city of Chittagong from December 16.

The first One-dayer in Chittagong on December 23 was to be followed by back-to-back day-night matches in Dhaka on December 26 and 27.

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