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Sri Lanka to go ahead with Pakistan tour despite terror fears

Sri Lanka Cricket Secretary received the all-clear from the defence ministry

PHOTO: AFP

Sri Lanka's cricket board Thursday said it will go ahead with its tour of Pakistan despite fears that players could be the targets of terror attacks during the six-match visit.

Sri Lanka Cricket Secretary Mohan de Silva said they received the all-clear from the defence ministry to leave for Pakistan on Tuesday.

"We have the green light from the defence ministry," de Silva told AFP. "The tour is on as we planned. I myself and our office bearers will also be accompanying the team."

The Government of Pakistan in a letter sent to the SLC via the Ministry of Telecommunications, Foreign Employment and Sport of Sri Lanka has assured that the Government of Pakistan will ensure highest consideration of security to the visiting cricket team. It also said that the Pakistan Army will coordinate the security arrangements, which will be compatible to a Head of State.

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Reports last week of a possible terror attack were referred to the defence ministry for investigation.

The Sri Lanka team was the target of an attack during a Test match in Pakistan's Lahore in March 2009, with six players injured when gunmen attacked their bus.

Six Pakistan policemen and two civilians were killed.

Since the attack, a majority of international teams have refused to tour the South Asian country.

Sri Lanka's first match in Lahore after that was one T20 game against Pakistan in October 2017.

De Silva visited Pakistan last month along with a security consultant to check out the arrangements made by the hosts.

"They have promised security reserved for a head of state," de Silva said.

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The six-match tour, due to start on September 27, was put on hold last week after the Sri Lanka prime minister's office warned the board it had unspecified information about a possible attack against its players.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) said it was not aware of any information relating to the safety of the Sri Lankan team, but reiterated its commitment to providing security.

Ten senior players opted out of the tour citing security concerns.

Sri Lanka has already announced two squads for the three one-day internationals (ODI’s) and the three T20 matches.

Match schedule:

1st ODI — Karachi, September 27

2nd ODI — Karachi, September 29

3rd ODI — Karachi, October 2

1st T20 — Lahore, October 5

2nd T20 — Lahore, October 7

3rd T20 — Lahore, October 9