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    Gunmen attack SL cricket team in Lahore

    by Sunny on 3rd March, 2009 at 1:31 pm    

    This is the top news story right now:

    Eyewitnesses to Tuesday’s attack on Sri Lanka’s cricketers described scenes of shock and horror as gunmen opened fire in the heart of the Pakistani city of Lahore. “As the Sri Lankan team was approaching the stadium for the test match this morning, about a half a kilometre away from the stadium, two cars entered the roundabout… and fired a grenade,” said Graham Usher, a British journalist, who was approaching the area just as the attack took place.

    “As they did this, three other gunmen ran into the roundabout, where the bus was, opened fire on a police vehicle - where a police officer was killed - and then opened fire on the bus, spraying the bus we understand with machine gun fire,” he told the BBC’s Today programme.

    “The gunmen targeted the wheels of the bus first and then the bus,” Sri Lankan cricketer Mahela Jayawardene told Cricinfo website. “We all dived to the floor to take cover.”

    WTF? Lahore used to be a relatively safe city as well… I was there only a few months ago. Now it seems these militants can get everywhere. News on this is still developing.
    [hat tip Shamit]

    Update: Fe’reeha sent me this news transcript from Pakistan.

    Voice Over: The game is all over….. as a sad day dawned in Lahore.

    Irony could not have been more pronounced at Liberty Market roundabout Tuesday morning.

    The visiting Sri Lankans, who had helped Pakistan in its difficult hour by touring when no other major team was willing to so much as land in the country, was targeted by a dozen armed terrorists.

    The attackers were wearing flack jackets and were laced with hand grenades, automatic rifles, rocket launchers and klashinkovs as they targetted the bus carrying the former World Champions.

    The attackers were parked around Liberty Round about. As the bus approached, they shot at the bus and while the bus took a diognal turn towards Qaddafi stadium, a rocked launcher was fired from behind which missed.


    “I was turning from the round about when they launched a rocket fire at me. As we were turning diagonally, they missed the target and the rocket launcher smashed into an electricity pole.

    A man then threw a grenade from the front which missed. The Sri Lankan players were shouting go, go so I sped the bus and entered the stadium.”

    Once inside the stadium, the players were protected by the security forces.
    Captain Mahela Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara, Ajantha Mendis, Upul Tharanga and Thilan Samaraweera are amongst the injured. PCB officials have also confirmed that four Sri Lankan players suffered injuries.

    Meanwhile, PCB Liaison officer Abdus Sami Khan, reserve umpire Ahsan Raza and securitymen Dilshad Iqbal, Muhammad Jehangir and Muhammad Kafeel were also injured during the incident

    CCPO confirmed the involvement of a dozen terrorists and disclosed the encounter with the terrorists continued for half an hour.

    Meanwhile, the Pakistan cricket team remained safe but were in a state of shock as well. While the SriLankan players were evacuated from the stadium through a helicopter.

    SOT: CCPO, Police “We have cordoned off a large area and are searching surrounding areas.”

    VO: Punjab Governor Salman Taseer after visiting the area called the attacks a planned terrorist activity.

    The governor also said that every measure was being taken to find the terrorists.

    Taseer added they have also found the car used by the terrorists during the shocking episode.

    VO: He also said the attacks had an eerie resonance of the Mumbai attacks last November.

    SOT: Salmaan Taseer

    “These are Indian style attacks. The way they have carried these attacks is identical to Mumbai attacks even though we are in the early inestigation stages.”

    VO: Sri Lanka cricket chief Duleep Mendis has ordered for the team to return home immediately.

    The area where the team was targetted has been cordoned off by the police. Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has also ordered an immediate enquiry into the incident.

    As the dissappointed crowd was told that the match was cancelled, the gravity of situation dawned on the country. The only question on everyone’s mind is who is responsible?

    It maybe too early to speculate who is responsible for the attacks. At the moment Pakistani are trying to come to terms to atrocities of the fearful attack.

      |     |   Add to del.icio.us   |   Share on Facebook   |   Filed in: Current affairs, Pakistan, Terrorism

    18 Comments below   |  

    1. platinum786 — on 3rd March, 2009 at 1:53 pm  

      It’s completely shocking. The one thing I could say was assured in Pakistan was cricket. Now Cricket is a victim of terrorism in Pakistan too it’s hard to comprehend where it all ends.

      I hope the cordon works and they capture some of the gunmen, some sources are saying that people have been arrested, nothing has been oficially confirmed.

      Terrorism in Pakistan just shows how weak and inept the internal security forces are, namely the police.

    2. qidniz — on 3rd March, 2009 at 2:37 pm  

      Well, that’s it for cricket in Pakistan. The end. International matches may be organized in the UAE (Dubai in particular) but how much of a substitute that will be is hard to say.

      Hats off to the Sri Lanka team for their courage. They took it on the chin for the rest of the world now to be in no doubt whatsoever that Pakistan is finished.

    3. platinum786 — on 3rd March, 2009 at 2:45 pm  

      I don’t see anyone touring in Pakistan until something major changes. I wouldln’t tour Pakistan If i was in charge of a cricket team. Not to say that my trip this summer is cancelled. It’s going to take nuclear war to cancel that.

    4. Sid — on 3rd March, 2009 at 3:11 pm  

      Much as I love the aged communist, but Uncle Tariq’s talking out of his arse again.

    5. Sofia — on 3rd March, 2009 at 3:12 pm  

      It’s the same tactics used by militants in Egypt….to hurt the local economy..and scare ppl…cricket is in the blood of most pakistanis and in simplistic terms if anything makes them stir against extremists, this may do it.

      Pakistan is not finished…qidniz..you don’t finish a nation because of terrorism..doh!…it’s ‘leaders’ need to wake up and act…instead of caving in and acquiesing as they have recently done. I feel sorry for anyone having to live in fear of these idiots.

    6. Sofia — on 3rd March, 2009 at 3:13 pm  

      Sid, please explain your point of view regarding the article..i actually agree with a lot of what he’s said

    7. Sid — on 3rd March, 2009 at 3:20 pm  


      Perhaps I was being too hasty. I read up to the second paragraph and realised he was spouting all the usual “anti-imperialisms” that he has done for the last 40 years, and which he can do blindfolded, no doubt.

      The first is undoubtedly the foolish decision by Washington (backed by Britain) to send more troops to Afghanistan, which has now united all those resisting them in that country and the North-West Frontier province of Pakistan. Instead of searching for a viable exit strategy, Obama has gone for a surge. On several occasions, I have warned that escalating the war in Afghanistan could seriously destabilise Pakistan and its army.

      I think the decision to bolster troops in Afghanistan is absolutely correct. This is not a “surge” in the Iraq 2006 sense, but Afghanistan has been a war zone since 1979. To say that the decision to maintain troops there is the reason why the NWFP, Swat and Waziristani warlords have all dropped their mutual differences in a terrorist effort against the Zardari government is hokum.

      I think the LeT - which is undoubtedly behind this, would have done this even if Zardari had not won, even if Benazir had lived and had gained control.

      My question is, even so soon after Mumbai, where was Pakistani intelligence; the legendary ISI? What do they have to say about this?

    8. platinum786 — on 3rd March, 2009 at 3:25 pm  

      The article has some things right, but it starts off an a stupid foot buy suggesting that Pakistan is ungovernable. Everything is governable. Do you think Chairman Mao or Castro or Stalin would have dealt with terrorists? I’m not advocating authoritarianism as an approach, but you need a strong government, and that mostsly comes from the people. In the Pakistani democratic system the opposition always undermines the government and the military whenever it intervenes, never fixes anything long term.

      Take a look closer to home, look at the opposition to the Iraq war and parliament. It was split massively, yet never at any stage was the government or the military undermined by the opposition to a point where it was weakened.

      Pakistan lacks that responsbility in our leaders, it’s reflected in our farce of a political system with the to me-to you style governments we’ve had and the fact political parties and family dynasties.

      We need strong leadership, representative leadership, we don’t have that, nor do we have a proper means of acheiving that.

    9. Sofia — on 3rd March, 2009 at 3:29 pm  

      I don’t necessarily agree with sending more troops in….they are succeeding in providing more fuel for the fire…and rival factions have managed tentative alliances when faced with a common enemy…am not sure if this is happening now, but it isn’t totally impossible a theory.

    10. platinum786 — on 3rd March, 2009 at 3:31 pm  

      Sid, what does LeT have to gain from attacking the Sri Lankan team? LeT and Sri Lanka have no problems, I could understand if it was the Indian team, but the Sri Lankans and LeT have no links. Also LeT only exist as they are an ISI asset, nobody is fighting the LeT and neither is the LeT fighting the state.

      There are plenty of others interested in harming Pakistan, internally and externally.

      You do hit on a good point about intelligence failures. The ISI has been exposed massively. They’ve focused entirely on countering Indian agents in the country and politicians and using jihadi groups to extend influence. However, they’ve completely failed to deal with internal terrorism or secatarian violence.

      Think of them as MI6 or the CIA. The job of the internal investigation has always been that of the FIA, Federal Investigative Agency. Unfortunately our journalists have better ground level intelligence than they do. Add to that the complete lack of technoloy to help police work, even stuff like CCTV. What do yo do with camera’s if you have no electricity to run them on?

    11. Sid — on 3rd March, 2009 at 3:37 pm  

      Sid, what does LeT have to gain from attacking the Sri Lankan team? LeT and Sri Lanka have no problems, I could understand if it was the Indian team, but the Sri Lankans and LeT have no links. Also LeT only exist as they are an ISI asset, nobody is fighting the LeT and neither is the LeT fighting the state.

      Well, you could ask why did they shoot and kill 5 Pakistani policsmen? But then you would be granting them with some nationalist cause, and of course the LeT is not that. Jeez, when will muslims understand that Islamist terrorists want to harm ordinary muslims as much as anyone else?

    12. Sunny — on 3rd March, 2009 at 3:41 pm  

      Wot Sid said. The decision to send more troops to Afghanistan is the only way to bring some stability to Pakistan.

    13. platinum786 — on 3rd March, 2009 at 4:03 pm  

      I personally don’t think the Afghan surge will work. The way to win in Afghanistan is to split the pukhtoons from the Taliban. Right now the government is not a pukhtoon majority, it’s not representative of the true tribal powers in the region. They need to be represented in Parliament, not in the ranks of the Taliban. Take away the support of the tribes and watch the Taliban dissolve.

      But whilst Afghanistan is run by the ethnic minorities, the tribes of the pukhtoons will support the taliban since your enemies enemy is your friend.

    14. Leon — on 3rd March, 2009 at 4:06 pm  

      I’m not so sure…but don’t see much alternative. The UN should be the one doing this job with their blue hat soldiers but that institution seems pretty bloody useless now.

    15. Jai — on 3rd March, 2009 at 4:48 pm  

      My condolences to any PP readers from Pakistan or Sri Lanka, or who have ancestral/familial roots in either of those countries.

      Terrible events and another tragedy for the people of Pakistan, in what is already an escalating situation in that country. My heart goes out to our desi cousins over there.

    16. qidniz — on 4th March, 2009 at 12:09 am  

      Either Nabil Ahmed Gabol is a moron, or this blaming of India by a minister is a coded message. “Hey terrorists, you can relax, we are not going to look for you that hard.” The message is for public consumption, of course.

    17. platinum786 — on 4th March, 2009 at 10:27 am  

      Nothing can be ruled out whilst the investigation is under way. RAW has been active in Pakistan for decades similarly to how the ISI has been active in India.

      Everyone remember Kashmir Singh. Recently released by the Pakistani government, he returned to India and confirmed he was a spy. You also need to know that not all RAW assets are going to be Indians. After the nuclear tests,a Pakistani man was caught in our village with viles of poison. He later claimed to be on a RAW payroll and his job was to poison local water supplies in case war kicked off, to cause the Pakistani resources to be bogged down.

      Similarly I am sure there are ISI assets and spies in India right now. Hence the involvement cannot be ruled out.

    18. dave bones — on 4th March, 2009 at 11:27 pm  

      I can’t see how sending troops into Afghanistan can stop 12 determined jihadis with machine guns in a civilian area.

      Why are reports saying “How did they get to Lahore which is peaceful etc?”

      They drove there. Its Pakistan.

      I wonder if attacking sport might be an own goal for these guys though. Even the Taliban who banned football had to reintroduce it didn’t they and pakistanis are much more religious about cricket than Afghans were about football eh.

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