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Police and forensic officials inspect the area after a crude bomb blast outside Chinnaswamy cricket stadium yesterday.
Police and forensic officials inspect the area after a crude bomb blast outside Chinnaswamy cricket stadium yesterday.

IPL semi-finals switched to Mumbai

Organisers vow that security will be "watertight" for the remainder of the tournament after two bomb blasts at a Bangalore cricket stadium.

NEW DELHI // Indian Premier League organisers have vowed that security will be "watertight" for the remainder of the tournament after two bomb blasts at a Bangalore cricket stadium left 14 people injured and panicked fans before a match. However two more unexploded bombs were found near the stadium today and the IPL issued a press release saying the semi-finals scheduled to be played in Bangalore on Wednesday and Thursday would now be held in Mumbai, which is also set to host the final on April 25.

"We are talking to police and government officials about security arrangements," the IPL commissioner Lalit Modi said today. "We are feeling quite confident." Two crudely made bombs went off outside Chinnaswamy Stadium yesterday, an hour before an IPL match between Bangalore Royal Challengers and Mumbai Indians. Mumbai eventually won the match, which was played in a packed stadium and started an hour later than scheduled.

"The incidents were assessed by local police and the IPL's security agency as being of a minor nature but they have forced our hand," Modi said in a statement. "This decision is naturally disappointing for the people of Bangalore but has been taken with the tournament's best interests, and the interests of its many varied stakeholders, in mind." Modi said two extra layers of security would be added outside the already heavily guarded venues for the few remaining regular-season matches and the semi-finals and final. "It will be a little inconvenient for the spectators but we're leaving no stone unturned," he said. "Security will be watertight."

According to initial investigations, the explosives used in the blasts were locally made and of low intensity, MR Poojar, a senior local police official said. He also said that of the 14 injured only three remained in hospital this morning. Poojar said it was too early to say who was responsible for the blasts. The sound of the blasts, which occurred as thousands of spectators were entering the stadium, sent nervous crowds running in panic. Bangalore is set to host some of next year's cricket World Cup matches. The International Cricket Council said it was too early to comment on the attack.

Today two sets of IPL regular season matches are scheduled - one in New Delhi between the Delhi Daredevils and the Deccan Chargers and another in the north Indian hill town of Dharmsala between Kings XI Punjab and the Chennai Super Kings. Sport venues in India have faced tight security amid fears that Islamist radical groups may target them. Up to 80 foreign players from across the world are contracted to the eight IPL teams. The second edition of the IPL was moved abroad to South Africa last year because of

concern that the security forces would be too stretched by a clash of dates between the federal elections and the lucrative Twenty20 cricket tournament. In late 2008, the first edition of the Twenty20 Champions League - featuring the leading provincial teams from five countries - was cancelled in the wake of terror attacks in Mumbai which left 164 dead. Neighbouring Pakistan, which experiences near-daily bombings by militants, has been off limits to foreign cricket teams since gunmen attacked the Sri Lanka team's bus in Lahore last year, killing six police officers and a driver.

The Pakistan Cricket Board was forced to organise its home series in the United Arab Emirates and will play Australia later this year in England. Cricket Australia said today that it was closely monitoring the security situation in India but it was too early to discuss ramifications for the 2011 World Cup, while New Zealand Cricket still plans to tour India in November despite the recent attack. There was no immediate reaction from the Indian organisers of the 2010 Commonwealth Games, which are set to be held in the Indian capital from October 3-14. India's home ministry has pledged tight security for the IPL and the Commonwealth Games, particularly after news reports quoted a Kashmir-based guerrilla commander linked to al Qa'eda warning countries not to send athletes to the Commonwealth Games or the IPL.

* AP

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