South Africa review security on Pakistan cricket tour

Published: Friday, October 19, 2007, 16:14 [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 for former premier Benazir Bhutto late Thursday in attacks that killed at least 133 people.

South Africa are due to play four more day-night internationals in Pakistan, including the final match scheduled for 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.

"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," Owen-Smith said.

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

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 chairman Nasim Ashraf said he hoped that the tour will go ahead as planned.

"The South African officials are meeting interior ministry officials later Friday and have sought guidance from us. I am hopeful that the tour will go ahead as planned," Ashraf told reporters.

South African officials will hold a press conference Friday evening.

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

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

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