The PCB and Punjab government have provided state level security for the visiting team © AFP
The PCB and Punjab government have provided state level security for the visiting team © AFP

Lahore: Dismissed as a power transformer blast initially, the explosion near the venue of the second PakistanZimbabwe ODI cricket match was a terror attack but the tourists have decided to continue with the series, which ends tomorrow. The incident occurred last night near the Gaddafi stadium — the venue of the second ODI here.

Federal Information minister Pervez Rasheed confirmed on Geo News that the blasts heard around 9.00pm during the match were the result of explosives planted in a rickshaw. Blast near Gaddafi Stadium injures four

Rasheed said the explosion in the rickshaw took place near Kalma Chowk which is around one kilometre from the Gaddafi stadium.

Initially, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) and police officials had said that the blasts were caused by an explosion in a power transformer near the stadium that was packed for the one-day international. A PCB spokesman confirmed to PTI on Saturday that steps were taken not to cause panic among the people last night. Wasim Akram credits PCB for Pakistan vs Zimbabwe series

“The blasts were heard and word spread around but the people who came to watch the match remained orderly and there was no incident,” Agha Akbar said.

“The main thing is that the Zimbabwe team is continuing the tour and will play the last ODI as planned on Sunday,” he said. Akbar said the tickets for the match were sold out like the first four games of the tour.

“They were scheduled to go shopping today which they will do and the foreign broadcasters are also fine and showed remarkable spirit,” he said.

DIG Operations Punjab Police Dr Haider Ashraf told the media that at least three policemen were killed in the rickshaw blast including a sub-inspector and several injured.

A source in the Punjab police said the blast in the rickshaw was meant to be a distraction while another terrorist waited to take advantage but because the security was so impenetrable, he could not get into the inner cordon of the cover around the Gaddafi stadium and was killed.

“The blast took place one kilometre from the stadium and there was panic and the policemen and rangers handled the situation smoothly and we are investigating and collecting evidence from the blast site,” Ashraf added.

Zimbabwe is the first Test team to tour Pakistan since March, 2009 when militants attacked the Sri Lankan team in Lahore and killed six Pakistani policemen and a van driver after which no international cricket has been played in Pakistan.

The PCB and Punjab government had provided state level security for the visiting team saying they had learnt their lessons from the 2009 incident.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) has awarded official status to the series but declined to send its match officials on security grounds.