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Bangladesh cricketers were nearly victims

Image: Nazmul Hassan Papon
President of Bangladesh Cricket Board Nazmul Hassan Papon, center, speaks during a press conference on the status of the country's cricket team after Friday's mass shootings in New Zealand, in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on March 15, 2019. Copyright Al-Emrun Garjon
Copyright Al-Emrun Garjon
By Associated Press and David K. Li with NBC News World News
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"Just escaped active shooters. Heartbeats pumping badly and panic everywhere," a team official said.

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WELLINGTON, New Zealand — The national cricket team of Bangladesh arrived at the scene of a deadly mosque shooting in Christchurch on Friday, moments after gunfire erupted, officials said.

Team players and staff took to social media, describing how they narrowly avoided bloodshed at Masjid Al Noor mosque in Hagley Park — one of two houses of worship attacked in New Zealand.

"Just escaped active shooters. Heartbeats pumping badly and panic everywhere," the team's performance analyst Shrinivas Chandrasekeran tweeted.

Mario Villavarayen, a strength and fitness coach with the Bangladesh team, told New Zealand media the players did not see the shooter but heard shots.

"I spoke to one of them shortly after," Vllavarayen said. "They were at the ground and just started running. The coaching staff were all at the hotel."

None of the athletes or support staff were injured.

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

Player Mushfiqur Rahimthanked higher authorities for his team's safety.

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

The team decided to cut short its tour of New Zealand, canceling matches to go home.

"On behalf of New Zealand Cricket heartfelt condolences to those affected," New Zealand Cricket chief executive David 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."

President of Bangladesh Cricket Board Nazmul Hassan Papon, center, speaks during a press conference on the status of the country\'s cricket team after Friday\'s mass shootings in New Zealand, in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on March 15, 2019.
President of Bangladesh Cricket Board Nazmul Hassan Papon, center, speaks during a press conference on the status of the country\'s cricket team after Friday\'s mass shootings in New Zealand, in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on March 15, 2019.Al-Emrun Garjon

International Cricket Council chief executive David Richardson said the sport's governing body "fully supports the decision to cancel the test match."

"Our thoughts and sincere condolences go out to the families and friends of those affected by this horrendous incident in Christchurch," Richardson said. "Both teams, staff and match officials are safe."

The Bangladesh players are expected to leave New Zealand on Saturday.

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