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Suicide bomb attack rocks Afghanistan Shpageza Cricket League match in Kabul

At least three people are said to have died and six are wounded in a suicide bomb attack at Kabul International Cricket Ground (Photo ASJF)
by Ahmad Shoaib Dost, ASJF

KABUL, September 17, 2017 - Afghan security sources have confirmed a suicide bomber detonated explosives at a check post leading to the cricket stadium where a Shpageza Cricket League match between Boost Defenders and Mis Ainak Knights was being played on Wednesday.

Initial reports say that at least three people, including a security force member and a civilian, were killed in the blast.

Security sources added that six people were wounded in the blast, while Cricket officials have said that all the cricket players competing are safe.

Shpageza is large participation cricket tournament organized by the Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) every year at Alokozay Kabul International Cricket Ground, Kabul, Afghanistan. The league includes more than 30 international players and Afghan players in the competing six franchise teams.

Officials have detailed that the blast had been at a security check point leading to the stadium.

Afghanistan Cricket Board CEO confirmed that all the players, coaching staff and match officials were safe.

The league, Afghanistan's domestic Twenty20 tournament, comprises six teams and features about two dozen overseas players from South Africa, West Indies, Zimbabwe, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Oman. The Defenders-Knights match was the second game of the day, following the Amo Sharks-Kabul Eagles contest.

According to Shafiqullah Stanikzai, ACB's chief executive officer told ESPN that the blast occurred during the fourth over of Knights' chase of 202. South Africa batsman Cameron Delport had scored a 42-ball century earlier to power Defenders to 201 for 6, which was seven runs too many for Knights.

Apart from Delport, the other overseas players at the ground at the time of the blast were Morne van Wyk (South Africa) and Rayad Emrit (West Indies) for Defenders, while the Zimbabwean trio of Vusi Sibanda, Sikandar Raza and Ryan Burl were representing Knights. Adam Hollioake, the former England captain, is the Defenders coach while Andy Moles is coaching Knights.

After the blast, the match was stopped briefly, but once the Afghanistan government-appointed security gave the clearance, it resumed. "It is not yet clear what caused the blast," Stanikzai told ESPN.

The Shpageeza Cricket League season kicked off on Monday and is scheduled to run through to September 22.

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