Colombo safe after blasts, says Bangladesh skipper Tamim Iqbal

Speaking to reporters two days after arriving in Colombo, Tamim said security was not a concern for the team although the host had arranged tight protection following the April 21 attacks that killed 258 people.

Sri Lanka captain Dimuth Karunaratne and his Bangladesh counterpart Tamim Iqbal pose with the trophy ahead of the three match ODI series in Colombo.   -  AP

Bangladesh was comfortable with the high level of security as it became the first foreign team to visit Sri Lanka since the Easter bombings, skipper Tamim Iqbal said on Monday.

Speaking to reporters two days after arriving in Colombo, Tamim said security was not a concern for the team although the host had arranged tight protection following the April 21 attacks that killed 258 people.

“The security has been fantastic... The facilities they have given us are top notch,” he said.

“We are feeling very comfortable. There is nothing except cricket (that) we are thinking of. The boys are enjoying the hotel and if they want to go out, it is completely safe for us,” he added.

A local Islamic extremist group was blamed for the April 21 suicide bombings against three churches and three luxury hotels in Colombo.

The authorities on Monday extended a state of emergency by a further month till August 22 giving more powers to security authorities to arrest and detain suspects.

Tamim said Sri Lanka had played in Bangladesh despite violence in his country and said his team’s visit was also a part of reciprocating the solidarity shown by the host.

The Bangladesh team is provided with a level of security usually reserved for visiting state dignitaries, with additional deployments at the hotel and armed guards for its motorcade.

Reporters covering Monday’s press conference with Tamim and his host were subjected to airport-style security.

“We have special security arrangements at match venues too,” a police official said.

Bangladesh will play three one-day internationals on July 26, 28 and 31 at the Premadasa International Stadium in Colombo.

Sri Lanka had previously expected New Zealand to be the first foreign sporting visitor but the Kiwis will now arrive next month to play two Tests and three Twenty20 matches.

The first Test against New Zealand will be played in Galle starting August 14, and the second will begin on August 22 at Colombo’s P. Sara stadium.

The three T20s will be played on August 31, September 2 and September 6.