Australia staff leave Dhaka with tour in doubt


Australian officials were Tuesday returning from Bangladesh after meetings with high-level security figures, but no final decision has yet been taken on the upcoming Test tour, Cricket Australia said.

The team’s departure was delayed on Sunday on security fears, prompting Dhaka to pledge to provide the kind of measures usually reserved for visiting heads of state if the tour goes ahead.

“There has been no change to our position on the matter,” a spokeswoman for Cricket Australia told AFP via email on Tuesday.

CA’s anti-corruption and security manager Sean Carroll met top security and intelligence officials in Dhaka on Monday.

Bangladesh Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan and Bangladesh Cricket Board president Nazmul Hassan, who insisted there was no risk to the players, were also at the meetings.

“Following yesterday’s meetings, our head of security (Carroll), team manager (Gavin Dovey) and team security manager (Frank Dimasi) are on their way home from Bangladesh for further meetings with the Department of Foreign Affairs and to brief our board, management and players on the situation,” the CA spokeswoman said.

In delaying the team’s departure, CA chief executive James Sutherland said the Canberra government had identified a potential security risk to its nationals’ interests in Bangladesh.

Australia’s foreign ministry warned on Friday of “reliable information to suggest that militants may be planning to target Australian interests in Bangladesh”.

On Monday the British government also warned that militants may be targeting western interests in the country, the same day that an Italian charity worker was shot dead by attackers in Dhaka.

“UK officials have been advised to limit attendance at events where westerners may gather,” it said in a travel advisory.

Bangladesh prides itself on being a mainly moderate Muslim nation but the gruesome killings of a series of atheist bloggers this year rocked the country and sparked a crackdown on local hardline Islamist groups.

The first Test is scheduled from October 9 in Chittagong and the second from October 17 in Dhaka following a three-day warm-up match scheduled to start on Saturday in Fatullah.