Top Pakistani cricketers, including captain Babar Azam and Shahid Afridi, were taken to the safety of the dressing room after a terror attack a few miles down the road where they were playing on Sunday.
An exhibition game of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) at the Nawab Akbar Bugti Stadium was halted for some time following an explosion in the Police Lines area, which left five people injured.
A senior police officer said that rescue work had been completed at the site and the injured had been taken to hospital.
The outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement on Sunday. It stated that the security officials were targeted in the blast.
Shahid Afridi. File picture
The exhibition game between PSL sides Quetta Gladiators and Peshawar Zalmi was organised by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) after pressure from Baloch fans who wanted Quetta to also get the status of a PSL venue.
“As soon as the explosion happened, the match was stopped as a precautionary measure and players were taken to the dressing room for a while. Later, after the green signal, the match resumed,” the police official said.
The ground was packed for the game.
This year’s PSL will be getting underway on February 13. The opening game will be played between Multan Sultans and Lahore Qalandars at the Multan Cricket Stadium in Multan.
The playoffs will be played from March 15, while the final will be held at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore on March 19.
Sports activity in Quetta, the capital of the restive Balochistan province, has come to a standstill for the last several years due to a fragile security situation and the constant threat of terror attacks.
The nature of the explosion, though, is not yet clear.
The TTP has stepped up terror attacks in recent days. Last week, 80 people were killed and scores injured in a suicide attack in the police lines in Peshawar.
Pakistan has been hit by a wave of terrorism, mostly in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and also in Balochistan and the Punjab town of Mianwali.
The TTP, which has ideological linkages with the Afghan Taliban, executed more than 100 attacks last year, most of which happened after August when the group’s peace talks with the Pakistan government began to falter. The ceasefire was formally ended last year on November 28 by the TTP.
Written with PTI inputs