Proteas mull quitting Pak tour in wake of blasts

Published: Friday, October 19, 2007, 14:15 [IST]
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South African cricket officials will meet to assess player safety before deciding whether to continue their tour of Pakistan after deadly blasts in Karachi, officials said.

Two blasts ripped through a homecoming parade of former premier Benazir Bhutto late Thursday in attacks that killed at least 130 people and injured more than 400.

South Africa are due to play four more day-night internationals in Pakistan, including the final match scheduled in Karachi at the end of this month.

Their next match is in Lahore on Saturday.

"We will consult on the situation with Cricket South Africa (CSA) officials, with the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) and with the security officials on tour with us and then take a decision," team spokesman Michael Owen-Smith said.

CSA only agreed to send South Africa on the tour after receiving assurances of safety from their Pakistan counterparts.

New Zealand cancelled the remainder of their tour when a bomb blast outside their hotel killed 14 people, including nine French naval staff, in May 2002.

Owen-Smith said the safety of the players was paramount.

"The safety and security of the players are paramount at all times and everyone is shocked by the news. Our thoughts are with those who lost their loved ones and with those who are injured," the spokesman said.

Asked if the blasts had endangered the rest of the tour, Smith would only say: "At this point we can't speculate on this and will only decide after consultation with the CSA and PCB," said Smith.

South Africa have already played in Karachi during a two-match Test series which they won 1-0, and won their first one-dayer against the hosts in Lahore this week.

PCB director of cricket operations Zakir Khan said a meeting had been arranged to discuss the situation after the blasts.

He declined to say if the match in Karachi would be shifted to another city.

The southern port city has been considered a danger zone for international teams since the 2002 blast.

South Africa refused to play a match in Karachi on their last Pakistan tour in 2003. England refused to play a Test there in 2005.

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