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July 4, 2019

Detectives launch probe into trouble at Pak-Afghan match

National

July 4, 2019

LONDON: Detectives have launched an investigation after "unprecedented" crowd trouble at the Cricket World Cup match between Pakistan and Afghanistan in Leeds where several Pakistani fans were attacked at the start and conclusion of the match.

A number of arrests were made during the match between Pakistan and Afghanistan at the Headingley ground in Leeds on Saturday and the West Yorkshire Police have told The News that four persons were arrested and being investigated.

Speaking to this correspondent, a spokesman for Scotland Yard confirmed that a thorough policing plan is in place for Friday’s match between Pakistan and Bangladesh at the Lord’s where thousands of Pakistanis and Bangladeshis are expected to root for their teams.

A West Yorkshire Police said the investigation would focus on the most serious offences and aim to identify those responsible. He said officers were initially called to a disturbance outside the stadium, in St Michael's Lane, involving a large group, with reports of some people climbing over a wall and assaulting staff on a gate shortly before 12:00pm on Saturday. Two men, both aged 22 and from London, were arrested on suspicion of affray. One was later released without charge and the other was bailed pending further inquiries, said the police. Further incidents were reported during and after the game, and a 17-year-old boy, from Birmingham, was arrested on suspicion of assault after going on to the pitch. He was later released without charge, according to the police.

Videos shared on social media show a fight between fans outside the ground, with a metal barrier being brandished, kicks, punches and shouting. Footage shows that Pakistani fans were first attacked outside the stadium at the start of the match and then just after the match ended. There was at least another fight during the match. In the viral footage, it can be seen that Afghan team supporters throwing chairs and punches at a group of Pakistani team supporters.

Superintendent Chris Bowen, head of operational policing for Leeds District, said police recognised the need for a "full and comprehensive criminal investigation" into the offences. He said, "While these were isolated incidents, involving a relative minority of people attending the event, the scenes that were witnessed were completely unprecedented at a cricket match. The law-abiding majority will have been understandably concerned at what occurred and we need to send a very clear message that behavior such as this is totally unacceptable and will not be tolerated.

"While we did not receive any direct reports of people being injured, the footage that is out there clearly shows people being assaulted during these incidents. We would like to hear from anyone who was a victim and from anyone who witnessed any incidents, particularly if they have uncut original source phone footage that could assist in identifying incidents or offenders."

Answering questions by this reporter about the Friday’s match, Detective Chief Superintendent Treena Fleming for Scotland Yard said, “We have thoroughly enjoyed hosting parts of the tournament so far, and look forward to the upcoming fixtures taking place in the capital. The Met has been working closely with the International Cricket Council, the England and Wales Cricket Board, The Oval and Lords to ensure spectators, players and staff can attend safe and enjoyable events.

“Officers who form part of this dedicated policing plan will be on scene to respond to any incidents should they occur. They will also be working closely with other Met officers who will be out across the city as usual, working hard to keep the public safe.”

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