‘Australian security concerns baseless’

Dhaka, Sep 27 (IANS) Bangladesh Home Minister Assaduzzaman Khan Kamal on Sunday dismissed the Australian cricket squad’s security concerns over playing in the country as “baseless”.

Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) issued the warning on Friday, saying militants posed a potential security risk, reports bdnews24.com.

As a follow-up, the Australian cricket team on Saturday postponed its planned departure to Bangladesh.

They were due to fly out of Sydney on Monday morning for the three-week tour, which includes two Test matches.

“An Australian organisation has expressed its concerns. But it is a baseless concern,” he told journalists at his secretariat office here.

“India, Pakistan, South Africa and many other countries have come and played international matches here. There were no problems.”

The DFAT, which provides travel advice to Australians planning to go abroad, in its notice said, “There is reliable information to suggest that militants may be planning to target Australian interests in Bangladesh.”

“Australian officials in Bangladesh have been advised to limit their movements in public places,” it added.

However, Kamal dismissed the fear, saying, “I had talked with others including detective organisations. There is no such risk. I want to assure the Australian team through you, we are sure full security. There will be no problems here.”

He also ruled out possibilities of militants gaining strength in Bangladesh like in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“We have kept it under control. The people of this country are peace-loving and aware. They would not accept militancy. There is no terrorism or militancy here.”

The home minister said there were no political unrest or agitation in the country and added the DFAT’s warning was “baseless”.

He expressed the hope that the Aussie team would come to play in Bangladesh.

“I had talked with the BCB president. He said a team of Australian representatives want to come and review the security measures. I said let them come, we will provide full security measures.”

The Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) said the warning was only a “general indicator” for foreign travellers and there was no specific threat to the players.

“The current security and safety level for Bangladesh is similar to other countries of the region,” a BCB statement said on Sunday.

Cricket Australia’s (CA) Head of Security Sean Carroll will arrive in Bangladesh on Monday to assess the security arrangements.

“(CA) Head of Security, Sean Carroll, is on his way to Bangladesh. He’ll be arriving very shortly to get an understanding of the state of things there,” CA CEO James Sutherland said on Sunday.

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