CHRISTCHURCH MOSQUE SHOOTING
Cricbuzz Staff •
As many as 40 people have been confirmed dead in the worst mass shooting in New Zealand’s history © Getty
Bangladesh Team Manager Khaled Mashud said the Bangladesh team’s narrow escape in the Christchurch terror incident was like being in a movie, with bleeding people running out of the building to escape the shooter while the team was hauled up in the bus just a few yards away from the mosque.
Players from the Bangladesh team only just managed to escape the shooting incident at the Al Noor Mosque in Christchurch before they safely made it back to their hotel. The incident (along with another shooting at a different mosque not far away) which New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said “can only be described as a terrorist attack” claimed 40 lives with a further 20 being injured.
It led to the Bangladesh Cricket Board and the New Zealand Cricket Board agreeing to cancel the scheduled third Test at the Hagley Oval on Saturday (March 16).
Cricbuzz understands that the team was just about to de-board the bus to enter into the mosque when they saw a wounded woman fall in front of them. They were then alerted by another woman, in a car, about the shooting inside the mosque. They then decided to stay inside the bus, and kept their heads down for about 10 minutes.
“It was like a movie, bleeding people running out of the building. We were on the bus floor for about 10 minutes,” Mashud told reporters in Christchurch. “We were very close to the mosque. We could see the mosque. We are lucky in the sense that if we had arrived three four minutes earlier, we would have been in the mosque and then it could have been a massive accident.
“We were lucky that we were not inside but from outside we saw it and it was quite similar to a movie. We saw people coming out of the mosque covered in blood. We were in the bus for eight to 10 minutes and we were lying down inside.”
The entire team, barring Liton Kumar Das and Nayeem Hasan, had decided to go to the Al Noor Mosque near the Hagley Oval to offer their Friday prayers. Mashud and video analyst Srinivas Iyer were with them too. Luckily for them, the pre-match press conference, which Mahmudullah had addressed just a few minutes ago, ended a few minutes later than expected, thus delaying their visit to the mosque.
After being hunched in the bus for a while, the team decided to walk to Hagley Oval from where they were escorted to the hotel and safety.
“We felt if they saw us inside the bus they might come out and attack. At that point, the players decided that they should get out of the bus and quickly walked out.
“We stayed in the dressing room for a while and we were discussing how we can get out. The New Zealand board was trying to bring us back to the hotel safely. They tried their best in this regard and they cannot be blamed because they tried in the manner they are used to. I think the players supported each other at that point and took a wise decision of getting out from the bus. Thank you NZ cricket board for bailing us during that time and making arrangements so that we could return to the hotel safely.”
“Our plan to return has also been chalked out with the people in charge. The board has been in communication with us. Not just with me, but also the captain Mahmudullah and Tamim and the coach. I would like to thank the cricket board for monitoring the situation and giving us their inputs.”
Speaking about the incident itself, Mashud said it was saddening to see such an incident take place.
“I am sure it is not related with cricket. As far as we could see, it seemed like the entire episode was for something else. We don’t like it and as a player or a human being, we don’t expect this kind of accidents to take place. We want to play and it was unfortunate that we missed a Test match but the prevailing conditions have forced us to return.”
“It’s very normal that a human being will break down when he sees a terrorist attack happening in front of him or you are watching people are coming out with bloodied clothes. It is very normal that anyone can be shocked because at that point no one was sure that this won’t happen to him. I saw some of the players were crying in the bus… what could be done, how to get out of here. It is very difficult. It affects our psychology,” Mashud said.
According to reports, three people are in custody following the shootings, with schools and government buildings going into lockdown. The police authorities urged the people of Christchurch to stay indoors.
The New Zealand Cricket Board has revealed that it will make all the arrangements to ensure the Bangladesh team returns home as quickly as possible.