Monday, March 2, 2009
Cricket Team attacked
Gunmen killed at least four people in an attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team's bus on Tuesday as it drove to the Gadaffi stadium in Lahore. Four players received minor injuries in the attack -- Kumar Sangakkara, Ajantha Mendis , Thilan Samaraweera and Tharanga Paranavithana.
Pakistan television channels said four people were killed. Two police commandos were killed along with a regular policeman and a traffic warden. The two police commandos had been driving behind the team bus when they were hit.
Pakistan had invited the Sri Lanka team to tour after India's team pulled out with security concerns following the militant attacks on the Indian city of Mumbai in November.
The incident took place when the Sri Lankan team was attacked by around 10 armed gunmen near the Liberty Chowk which is close to the stadium.
One explosion was also heard at the stadium.
The attackers later escaped in separate groups.
The liaison officer of the Pakistan team said players of the host nation have been sent back to the hotel.
"The Sri Lankan players are presently safe at the Gaddafi stadium and they are getting treatment," one PCB official told PTI.
Sources also claimed that the police had received a threat on Monday that the Sri Lankan team would be attacked so a different route was used to transport the team to the stadium.
"The firing took place from at least four sides and continued for some minutes," one police official said.
"There were 12 masked gunmen," Lahore police chief Habib-ur Rehman told reporters, adding that police battled against the assailants for about 25 minutes.
"They appeared to be well-trained terrorists. They came on rickshaws. They were armed with rockets, hand grenades, Kalashnikovs," he said.
Television channels aired footage of at least two of the gunmen, one of them wearing shalwar kameez and other jeans and a jacket. Both were armed with assault rifles and carrying backpacks.
Police cordoned off the area immediately after the attack and launched a search for the gunmen. The driver of the cricket team's bus drove away from the spot immediately after the firing started.
"We are assessing the situation," Pakistan Cricket Board chief Ejaz Butt said.
"Five policemen who were providing protection to the team sacrificed their lives," he added.