Tuesday, March 3, 2009
dedicate to lankan team
Lahore, March 03: Terror struck cricket today when a gang of highly trained terrorists attacked Sri Lankan team's convoy here, injuring seven players and killing eight policemen and others, leaving the cricket world stunned.
In an audacious gun and grenade attack, 12 terrorists ambushed the Lankan team's bus near Gaddafi Stadium, where the players were being taken, at 9 am, ahead of the third day's play in the second Test against Pakistan.
Star batsman Thilan Samaraweera and Tharanga Paranavitana were hospitalised with shrapnel wounds, while captain Mahela Jayawardene, vice-captain Kumar Sangakkara, Ajantha Mendis, Thilina Thushara and Suranga Lokumal received minor injuries, mostly shrapnel wounds. All of them were out of danger.
The Sri Lankan team's assistant coach Paul Farbrace was also injured in the attack which left six policemen and two civilians dead. Besides the Sri Lankan team members, nine security personnel, two rescue workers, Pakistan Cricket Board liaison officer Abdus Sami Khan and reserve umpire Ahsan Raza were also injured, officials said. Raza was operated on in hospital and his condition was described as stable.
Sri Lanka, which agreed to tour Pakistan after India had refused to do so in the aftermath of the Mumbai terror attack, immediately called off the tour.
How it happened
Mehar Mohammad Khalil, the driver of the Sri Lankan team’s bus, told reporters that the terrorists had shot at his vehicle from all sides.
A rocket fired from behind missed the bus and hit an electric pylon, Khalil said.
The driver said he had seen a tall and bearded terrorist wearing a shalwar kameez emerge from a white car and open fire at the bus. Another terrorist lobbed a grenade that passed under the bus.
“People started shouting in the bus and the players said ‘Go,go’. I drove the bus at high speed to the stadium. I then saw a Sri Lankan player was hit in the leg by a bullet. We called an ambulance and put him in it,” said Khalil.
The Lahore police chief said the attackers had gone to the Liberty Chowk traffic roundabout in a rickshaw and several cars.
The bus with the Sri Lankan team immediately drove to the Gaddafi Stadium, from where the two Sri Lankan players with shrapnel injuries were taken to the Services Hospital.
Police cordoned off the area after the attack and launched a search for the gunmen. Reports said the gunmen had tried to snatch a car in a nearby market as they fled from Liberty Chowk.
The gunmen, who attacked the team bus with rockets, grenades and automatic weapons, fled and none was caught.
As a shocked world watched, air force helicopters evacuated the Sri Lankan players from the stadium to an air force base. A special plane sent from Colombo to bring the team home carried it home on Tuesday night.
We all dived to the floor to take cover: Jayawardene
Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene, who was also in the bus, said that the players dived to the floor of the bus to take cover when the team bus came under heavy fire from terrorists.
"The bus came under attack as we were driving to the stadium, the gunmen targeted the wheels of the bus first and then the bus," Jayawardene was quoted as saying in a report.
"We all dived to the floor to take cover. Players were been injured and also Paul Farbrace (a member of the support staff), but most of the injuries appear to be minor and were caused by debris," he said.
Punjab Governor Salman Taseer said the attack bore the hallmarks of the Mumbai terror strikes, for which India blamed Pakistan-based elements including Lashkar-e-Toiba. "I want to say it's the same pattern, the same terrorists who attacked Mumbai," he said.
Pakistan cricket captain Younis Khan, who met the Sri Lankan team, said Jayawardena sustained a minor injury to his leg.
Four suspects were detained by police in the Model Town area. Two cars used by the terrorists were seized by police. Officials said they found grenades, explosives and other materials in the cars.
TV channels aired footage of at least four of the terrorists, one of them wearing a brown shalwar kameez and the others jeans and jackets. All were armed with assault rifles and carried large backpacks. One clip showed two terrorists mercilessly shooting a policeman as he lay on the road. The terrorists were moving in pairs and appeared to be well trained.
They were later brought back to the stadium and an air force helicopter made two sorties to airlift the players.
The Pakistani team was to leave its hotel 15 minutes after the departure of the Sri Lankan side. Officials immediately took steps to prevent it from travelling towards the site of the attack.
The two teams were to play the second Test match of a series and the game was called off after the incident. The Sri Lankan team, which had come to Pakistan after several other teams refused to tour the country, called off their trip.
Future of Cric in Pak
As the attack on the sub-continent's most beloved sport was widely condemned across the world, questions were raised over the future of international cricket in Pakistan and the country's ability to co-host the 2011 World Cup.
The game's governing body ICC immediately made it clear that Pakistan, which it described as a very dangerous place, cannot host international cricket until its security is drastically improved.
ICC President-elect Sharad Pawar, who would be at the helm during the 2011 World Cup to be staged by Asian nations, said the terror attack on the Sri Lankan cricketers would make it difficult for Pakistan to remain a co-host for the mega event.
The Pakistani leadership on Tuesday expressed its sincere apologies to the Sri Lankan people for the "very unfortunate incident" in which seven players from the Island nation were injured when masked terrorist attacked the players' convoy in Lahore on Tuesday.
Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari on Tuesday telephoned President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Tuesday in Kathmandu to strongly condemn the terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan cricketers, injuring seven players and killing eight policemen and others.
Earlier, Pakistan Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani had also telephoned President Rajapaksa to condemn the attack by gunmen near showpiece Gaddafi Stadium where the player were being taken at 9 am ahead of the third day's play in the second Test against Pakistan.
Zardari asked authorities to immediately investigate the incident to identify the perpetrators and expose their motives.
Gilani said the objective of the terrorist attack was to bring a “bad name to Pakistan”. Gilani also told Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa and said the attack was part of a conspiracy meant to “create terror and isolate Pakistan’s cricket”.