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From Munich to Christchurch: What happened when terrorism played spoilsport?

The Bangladesh cricket team escaped unhurt and was not even the target but violence has been specifically directed at sportspersons in the past, leading to bloody repercussions. Here is a look at instances when sport, often a tool to propagate the idea of world peace, found itself caught in the crossfire. 

1972 Munich Olympics

The most gruesome incident of targetted violence against sportsperons happened on September 5, 1972.

Eleven Israeli athletes and coaches were taken hostage and eventually murdered by terrorists during a 16-hour ordeal, during which the world was witness to chilling images of athletes held captive on gunpoint. 

The photo shows Avi Melamed (2nd L), surviving member of the 1972 Israeli Olympic team. 

(Photograph:AFP)

New Zealand

It was to be a three-Test tour but New Zealand abandoned it after just the first match when a bomb planted by separatists exploded near the team hotel in Colombo, killing 113 civilians. 

As a result, no international tours of Sri Lanka were undertaken until 1992. 

(Photograph:AFP)

2002 New Zealand tour of Pakistan (cricket)

New Zealand's cricket team was touring Pakistan in 2002 when a bomb went off outside their hotel, killing 12 people. 

The players were unscathed but the Black Caps' Board decided to call back the team. 

The teams were supposed to play a two-match series and Pakistan won the Test series 1–0. New Zealand were captained by Stephen Fleming and Pakistan by Waqar Younis. In addition, the teams played a three-match Limited Overs International (LOI) series which Pakistan won 3–0. 

A year before this, New Zealand were on their way to Pakistan for a series before heading back midway owing to the September 11 terror attack in the USA. The series was eventually abandoned. 

In the photo, New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming (L), Craig McMillan (R) and Nathan Astle (C) at Karachi airport, 18 April 2002. 

(Photograph:AFP)

2009 Sri Lanka tour of Pakistan (cricket)

The Sri Lankan team was on its way to play what was to be the third day of the second Test against Pakistan at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore.

The team bus was, however, intercepted by at least a dozen terrorists who fired at the bus, killing at least eight people and wounding six team members, police said. 

Up to 12 gunmen attacked the team's convoy near the Gaddafi stadium with rockets, hand grenades and automatic weapons, triggering a 25-minute gun battle with security forces, said police chief. 

Six policemen died protecting the players while two civilians were also killed.  

The Lankan team returned home and Pakistan has not hosted an international match since then. 

In the photo, Sri Lankan cricket team members disembark from a Pakistani military helicopter onto the playing surface at The National Stadium in Lahore on March 3, 2009. 

Pakistani air force helicopters evacuated the Sri Lankan cricket team -- including two players on stretchers -- from the stadium after a deadly ambush.    

(Photograph:AFP)

2010 African Nations Cup Football Tournament

Togo's national football side was travelling through the Angolan province of Cabinda for the African Nations Cup when the team bus came under gun fire from separatists.

The side's assistant manager and media officer were killed in the attack. 

In the photo, Togolese gendarmes carry the coffin wrapped in the national flag of one of the victims of the attack that killed two of members of the Togolese national football team on January 8, 2010. 

(Photograph:AFP)

2019 Bangladesh tour of New Zealand (cricket)

A day before the start of what was to be the third and final Test of the tour, Bangladesh's cricket team was on its way for Friday prayers at the Masjid Al Noor mosque in Christchurch, which was to be followed by a practice session.

The mosque came under attack from a gunman, identified as an Australian extremist, and led to the killing atleast 49 people.

The visiting team narrowly avoided the shooting after arriving at the mosque for prayers. 

New Zealand Cricket said they had decided to cancel the Test, which was scheduled to start at Hagley Oval on Saturday, after discussions with the Bangladesh Cricket Board. 

The photo shows, police cordon off the area in front of the Masjid al Noor mosque after a shooting incident in Christchurch. 

(Photograph:AFP)