Bangladesh, New Zealand cricket match cancelled after mosque shooting
An international cricket match between New Zealand and Bangladesh has been cancelled after players from the visiting team narrowly avoided a mass shooting at a mosque in Christchurch on Friday.
At least 49 people were killed in the pre-meditated shootings at two mosques and more than 20 people have been seriously injured.
The Bangladesh team were on a bus approaching the al-Noor mosque - where at least 30 people were killed - when the shooting began.
New Zealand Cricket chief executive David White later there had been a "joint decision" to call off the third test, which had been scheduled to start Saturday in Christchurch.
"On behalf of New Zealand Cricket heartfelt condolences to those affected," White said. "I've spoken to my counterpart at Bangladesh cricket - we agree it's inappropriate to play cricket at this time. Both teams are deeply affected".
Team members described their experiences on social media. Opening batsman Tamim Iqbal tweeted: "entire team got saved from active shooters. Frightening experience and please keep us in your prayers".
Performance analyst Shrinivas Chandrasekeran, also on Twitter, posted: "Just escaped active shooters. Heartbeats pumping badly and panic everywhere".
Mario Villavarayen, a strength and fitness coach with the Bangladesh team, told New Zealand media the players did not see the shooter but heard shots. He said they were shaken but unhurt.
"I spoke to one of them shortly after," Vllavarayen said. "They were at the ground and just started running. The coaching staff were all at the hotel."
New Zealand Cricket said all players and support staff were "safe and accounted for", and a Bangladesh team spokesman later said all players had returned to the team hotel.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the events in Christchurch represented "an extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence" on "one of New Zealand's darkest days".
Police took three men and a woman into custody after the shooting. Police Commissioner Mike Bush said authorities had defused a number of improvised explosive devices that were attached to vehicles stopped after the attacks.
Mass shootings in New Zealand are exceedingly rare. Gun ownership, however, is more common, with 1.2 million registered firearms in the country of 4.6 million in 2017.