Members of the Bangladesh cricket team expressed their gratitude Friday at escaping a mass shooting in New Zealand. In Christchurch ahead of a scheduled match Saturday against the host nation, they went to pray at one of the two mosques attacked but managed to make it back safely to their hotel.
“Just escaped active shooters!!! Heartbeats pumping badly and panic everywhere!!” Bangladesh team analyst Shrinivas Chandrasekaran said on Twitter.
Initial reports from police in Christchurch indicated “multiple fatalities” from the attacks, with four people said to be in custody with the possibility that others may also have been involved. At a news conference, Police Commissioner Mike Bush advised “anyone that was thinking of going to a mosque anywhere in New Zealand today not to go, to close your doors until you hear from us again.”
A spokesman for the Bangladesh team told AFP that most members of the squad were on a bus that approached the mosque when shooting broke out. A reporter traveling with the team said to the news service that “distraught” players “got inside a bus and laid down on the floor after the warning [of what was happening].”
“They are safe. But they are mentally shocked. We have asked the team to stay confined in the hotel,” the spokesman said.
Praising Allah, Bangladesh batsman Mushfiqur Rahim tweeted that he and his teammates were “extremely lucky.” He added, “Never want to see this things happen again. … pray for us.”
“Entire team got saved from active shooters!!!” batsman Tamim Iqbal tweeted. “Frightening experience and please keep us in your prayers.”
An eyewitness told Radio New Zealand he saw “blood everywhere,” while another said (via AFP) he saw children being shot. “There were bodies all over me,” he said.
Calling it “one of New Zealand’s darkest days,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said, “Clearly, what has happened here is an extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence. Many of those who will have been directly affected by this shooting may be migrants to New Zealand. They may even be refugees here.
“They have chosen to make New Zealand their home, and it is their home. They are us.”
Bangladesh team members who were on the bus near the mosque reportedly disembarked and quickly made their way to Hagley Oval, where the match was to have taken place Saturday. That event, the third and final Test between the two teams, was canceled.
In announcing that cancellation, New Zealand’s team said, “Our heartfelt condolences go out to the families and friends of those affected by the shocking situation in Christchurch.”
“There’s no thoughts toward the game,” an official with the Bangladesh team said (via stuff.co.nz). “That’s not the biggest concern right now, the players need space.”
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