'The players just started running when they heard the shots': cricketers flee mosque
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'The players just started running when they heard the shots': cricketers flee mosque

WELLINGTON: The cricket Test match between New Zealand and Bangladesh has been abandoned following the mass shooting at a Christchurch mosque on Friday.

New Zealand Cricket chief executive David White said there had been a "joint decision" to call off the third test, which had been scheduled to start Saturday in Christchurch.

"On behalf of New Zealand Cricket heartfelt condolences to those affected," White said. "I've spoken to my counterpart at Bangladesh cricket - we agree it's inappropriate to play cricket at this time.

"Both teams are deeply affected."

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New Zealand Cricket said all players and support staff were "safe and accounted for," and a Bangladesh team spokesman later said all players had returned to the team hotel.

The Bangladesh players reportedly left the bus and fled on foot to nearby Hagley Oval, where the test match against New Zealand had been scheduled to be played.

Player Mushfiqur Rahim posted "Alhamdulillah Allah save us today while shooting in Christchurch in the mosque. We (were) extremely lucky ... never want to see this things happen again ... pray for us."

Players and members of the team's coaching staff were reportedly on their bus, approaching the Masjid Al Noor mosque in Hagley Park when the shooting broke out.

Opening batsman Tamim Iqbal tweeted "entire team got saved from active shooters. Frightening experience and please keep us in your prayers".

Performance analyst Shrinivas Chandrasekeran said on Twitter: "Just escaped active shooters. Heartbeats pumping badly and panic everywhere".

Mario Villavarayen, a strength and conditioning coach with the team, told New Zealand media the players did not see the shooter but heard shots. He said they were shaken but unhurt.

People outside Deans Ave mosque on edge of Hagley Park.

People outside Deans Ave mosque on edge of Hagley Park.Credit:George Heard/Stuff

"I spoke to one of them shortly after," he said. They didn't see anything but heard gunshots. They were at the ground and just started running. The coaching staff were all at the hotel. The players just started running when they heard the shots."

Mohammad Islam, a journalist travelling with the Bangladesh team, earlier said he believed the players would leave New Zealand as soon as possible.

"I don't think they're in a mental state to play cricket at all," he said. "I think they want to go back home as soon as possible. I'm speaking from experience. I'm speaking from what I've heard."

Mr Islam said he was contacted by one of the players as the shooting was taking place and he raced towards the scene. He said the players were in "terrible and mental" distress.

"They were just outside the mosque about to get off from the bus and go into the mosque when they heard shooting and a lot of people running out and they saw someone wounded in front of them," Islam said. "And seeing that, they didn't get off the bus. About 10 minutes later they ran out of the bus and ran through Hagley Park and into the Hagley Oval."

New Zealand Cricket have also been in contact with members of the Australian under-19 women's team, who are also in Christchurch.

According to a spokesman, the players from all the teams are safe and accounted for.

AP

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