Cricket World Cup: Security to pose problems for police

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The Independent Online
POLICE WILL have to deal with a potentially serious security problem after England's failure to qualify for the Super Six series in the World Cup guaranteed that India and Pakistan will have to play each other.

Victory over England at Edgbaston in Group A put India into the next stage of the tournament in which they will play the qualifiers from Group B, which is virtually certain to be won by Pakistan. That means the neighbours on the sub-continent will meet during the next nine days at a time when a long running dispute between the two countries over Kashmiri territory has escalated.

Cricket officials dismissed suggestions that the match, likely to take place at Old Trafford on 8 June, may have to be abandoned, but police admitted tightened security would be a high priority.

With political relations between the two Asian nuclear powers at a low ebb, organisers face having to cope with thousands of impassioned Pakistani and Indian fans standing within feet of each other in a stadium that has no fences.

Special branch officers in Manchester, which has large Pakistani and Indian communities, will consult security chiefs in MI5, the Home Office and the Foreign Office for information on any potential flash points.

A spokesman for Greater Manchester Police said: "Given the current state of relations between India and Pakistan, we will be looking very closely at increased security for any match between the two sides.

"We will be taking advice from all the relevant bodies and put into place whatever increased measures are felt necessary. It remains a cricket match and we will want it to stay that way."

Although Test and one-daymatches in India and Pakistan can generate lively reactions among volatile spectators, there has been no serious trouble during the current World Cup. The lack of fences at the grounds does, though, make it virtually impossible for police and stewards to prevent spectators from running on to the pitch.

Australia's players were unhappy about pitch invasions at the climax of their Group B defeat by Pakistan last week and their captain, Steve Waugh, called for security measures to be tightened to protect players.