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Sri Lankan cricket team attacked in Lahore

Article published on the 2009-03-03 Latest update 2009-03-04 12:40 TU

A video still of the attack in Lahore.(Photo: Reuters)

A video still of the attack in Lahore.
(Photo: Reuters)

At least six Pakistani policemen were killed when gunmen attacked the Sri Lankan cricket team’s convoy in Lahore with grenades and rocket launchers. Seven team members were injured in the attack as well as one coach.

The team was headed to Gaddafi stadium for the third day of the second Test against Pakistan, when gunmen struck just outside the stadium. Eyewitnesses in the stadium say that the bus pulled up while still being sprayed with bullets and injured players were then carried into the dressing rooms.

Pakistani officials said that 12 gunmen were involved in the attack, which they said bore resemblance to the terrorist attacks in Mumbai in December.

“This was a highly professional attack,” said correspondent Omar Waraich in Lahore. “There were 25-30 [people] carrying backpacks, [who] ran around and handled themselves quite confidently. First they used rocket launchers and subsequently other more sophisticated weapons.”

“Once the attack was over, they ran away quickly. It seems that they had a very well laid-out plan for their escape,” Waraich told RFI

Interview: Correspondent Omar Waraich in Lahore

03/03/2009 by David Coffey

There were security doubts leading into the tour, which is why the team had a police escort. Pakistan only invited Sri Lanka’s team after India pulled out due to security concerns.

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari strongly condemned the attack, ordering an immediate investigation “so that the perpetrators are identified and their motives exposed,” according to a statement released by his office.

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse expressed shock and immediately sent Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama to Pakistan to oversee the team’s evacuation.

Injured players Thilan Samaraweera and Tharanga Paranavitana were hospitalised in stable condition while five other players, Mahela Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara, Ajantha Mendis, Suranka Lakmal, Chaminda Vaas were treated for minor injuries, and have now returned to their hotel. Assistant Coach Paul Frabrace was also injured in the attack.

Sri Lankan officials declined to speculate on the authors of the attack, though there is speculation that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), who are locked in a bitter war with the Sri Lankan government, could have been involved.