New Zealand abandon tour after attack

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New Zealand have called off the remainder of their tour of Pakistan following a bomb explosion in Karachi, where the team was staying.

The tourists, based at the Pearl Continental Hotel, were preparing to depart for the National Stadium for the start of the Second Test when a car exploded outside the nearby Karachi Sheraton yesterday.

A bus carrying French nationals was destroyed in the blast. At least 11 people, including 10 French marine engineers, were killed and many others were hurt. None of the New Zealand players were injured, but the team physiotherapist Dayle Shackel did receive a minor cut to his forearm from flying glass. New Zealand called off the remainder of their tour two hours later.

The New Zealand cricket chief executive Martin Snedden said: "It was not a difficult decision to make quickly. Team manager Jeff Crowe said the situation outside the team's hotel was a little bit bleak. The bomb went off across the road from the hotel.

"The players have been quite shocked at what happened."

Speaking in the damaged lobby of the Pearl Continental, Waqar Younis was almost overcome with relief that the New Zealand touring side and his Pakistani players escaped injury.

"All the players and the officials of both teams are safe," he said. "But cricket will suffer badly in Pakistan. We are helpless and can't play cricket in these conditions which is sad for cricket lovers in Pakistan as well as for the teams."

The Pakistan Cricket Board director Munawwar Rana said: "It will now take a lot of effort to convince the International Cricket Council or other cricket boards to play in Pakistan after this incident.

"We have done everything possible to ensure the touring side had no problem. But there are certain circumstances we can't control. It has happened in a moment of madness."

The cancellation of the tour will cause more financial losses to the Pakistan board which has already lost more than $10m (£6.9m) in potential revenue since 11 September.

Australia's scheduled tour of Pakistan is on hold following the blast. They were to play in a one-day and Test series starting in August.

The ICC supported the decision to abandon the tour, with the chief executive officer Malcolm Speed saying that the Pakistan Cricket Board and Cricket New Zealand had done the right thing. "Our immediate concern is for the safety and security of the players and officials," he said.

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