Sri Lankan Cricketers Targeted in LahoreMarch 3, 2009
Indian Involvement Suspected
Terror struck at the heart of cricket when masked gunmen attacked the bus carrying the Sri Lankan cricket team to the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore.
Sources within the security establishment had been aware of an imminent attack being planned by Research & Analysis Wing – India’s premier intelligence agency.
“We had been picking up chatter and had received important information from the R&AW terrorists arrested in recent weeks. An attack was imminent. We had prepared for any eventuality and Alhamdolillah we were able to avert a major catastrophe. The security team fought bravely”, said a source on condition of anonymity.
Five cricketers, including Mahela Jayawardene, the Sri Lankan captain, and his deputy Kumar Sangakkara, received minor injuries. The attack left five security men dead.
Sports producer Gavin Scovell said security teams responded quickly.
“The guards were brilliant. They weren’t panicking. They were very calm,” Scovell said. “It must have been a terrifying experience, but they handled it well.”
Indian politicians and diplomats have been campaigning hard to have Pakistan declared a terrorist state, in recent weeks. The Indian Cricket Board also made its displeasure known at Sri Lanka’s decision to tour Pakistan, after India pulled out of the tour in the wake of Mumbai attacks.
The attack in Lahore is designed to damage the strong relations Pakistan shares with Sri Lanka. Pakistan has excellent relations with Sri Lanka and has given training and supplied arms to the Sri Lankan military fighting the Indian-backed Tamil Tiger rebels.
The attack on the Sri Lankan cricketers comes just a day after Sri Lankan state media published photographs and videos of Indian ministers including MDMK chief Vaiko, with LTTE supremo V Prabhakaran.
Kamran Khan: India Behind Lahore Attack
Pakistan’s Munich: The Enemy’s Fingerprints
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Zaid Hamid on the Lahore Attack on Sri Lankan Cricketers
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Lahore Attack: Photos
Click here for photographs of the Lahore attack. Warning: Viewer discretion advised.
This is declaration of war by India: Nabil Gabol
Minister of State Nabil Ahmed Gabol said India is behind the attack on Sri Lanka’s cricket team in Lahore on Tuesday, saying the attackers had crossed into Pakistan from India.
“The evidence which we have got shows that these terrorists entered from across the border from India,” Gabol told Geo News.
“This was a conspiracy to defame Pakistan internationally. This incident took place in reaction to 26/11,” he said. It is a declaration of open war on Pakistan by India,” said the minister.
Sanath Jayasuriya talking to the media
Players evacuated out of Gaddafi stadium
We’re shocked but everyone is OK – Sangakkara
“There are a few injuries but everyone is safe and all the players are out of danger,” Kumar Sangakkara had told CNN IBN. “We are shocked, but apart from that everyone is okay. Thilan [Samaraweera] has a shrapnel wound in his leg, but he is fine. [Tharanga] Paranavitana had shrapnel in his chest, but thank God it wasn’t very deep and just on the surface.
“I had shrapnel injuries in my shoulder, but they have all been removed and I’m okay now. Ajantha [Mendis] had shrapnel in his neck and scalp, but he too has had medical attention and is fine. Everyone else is perfectly all right.
“It’s very unfortunate that this has happened. Everything had gone on very well until this morning, but it just goes to show that nothing is as it seems. I don’t regret coming here to play cricket because that’s what we have been doing all our lives. That is our profession.
“But I regret this incident, what has happened and the situation that we have had to go through. All we want to do now is to go back home to our families, get back home and be safe.”
The timing of the attack is very crucial due to political tension between the two biggest political parties of Pakistan – the ruling Pakistan People’s Part of late Bhutto and Pakistan Muslim League of opposition leader Nawaz Sharif. After disqualification of Nawaz and his brother Shahbaz Sharif who was chief minister of biggest province of Pakistan, the Zardari government had dissolved Punjab provincial government and Governor Rule had been implemented for two months. Almost entire Punjab police department was reshuffled by the central government overnight. Some commentators are also pointing fingers at ill-timed postings and transfers which they say might have also created some confusion regarding security arrangements. Read Full Article | Farzana Shah | Asian Tribune
Watch this space for more updates.