Sri Lankan cricket team attacked by terrorists in Pakistan

Reply Tue 3 Mar, 2009 02:49 pm

This is really sad:

Pakistan's cricketing future in jeopardy after deadly attack

Posted 2 hours 6 minutes ago
Updated 2 hours 5 minutes ago

Gunmen have attacked Sri Lanka's cricket team in a gun and grenade assault in the Pakistani city of Lahore that killed eight people and wounded seven members of the squad.

The attack sparked condemnation from around the world and threw a massive question mark over the future of the game in the troubled nation, a co-host for the 2011 cricket World Cup.

"The plan was apparently to kill the Sri Lankan team but the police came in the way and forced the attackers to run away," Lahore's police chief Habib-ur Rehman said.

"They appeared to be well-trained terrorists."

Mr Rehman said up to 12 gunmen ambushed the team's convoy close to the Gaddafi stadium with rockets, hand grenades and automatic weapons, unleashing a fierce gunbattle with security forces.

The gunmen fled after the ambush, triggering a giant manhunt.

It was the first deadly attack against a sports team in the country, where more than 1,600 people have died in a wave of attacks in less than two years, and where Al Qaeda and Taliban shelter in its north-west.

Witnesses said the upmarket district of Lahore, home to many designer boutiques, was transformed into a battle zone as gunmen hidden behind trees opened fire in a sophisticated, coordinated attack.

"The bus came under attack as we were driving to the stadium," Sri Lanka's captain Mahela Jayawardene said.

"The gunmen targeted the wheels of the bus first, and then the bus. We all dived to the floor to take cover."

A police official said two civilians and six policemen guarding the players were killed in the attack as the team was heading for the third day's play in the second Test against Pakistan.

Sri Lankan officials said seven team players and a coach were wounded.

Star batsman Thilan Samaraweera and Tharanga Paranavithana were treated in hospital but out of danger, while Jayawardene, vice-captain Kumar Sangakkara, Ajantha Mendis, Thilina Thushara and Suranga Lokumal had minor injuries.

Assistant coach Paul Farbrace, a British national, was also hurt.

'Remarkable bravery'

The Sri Lankan cricket team hailed their bus driver for saving their lives after the deadly ambush.

Manager Brendon Kuruppu praised team bus driver Meher Mohammad Khalil for saving the players.

"I was on a phone call and I saw two men coming out from somewhere and opening fire," Mr Kuruppu said.

"We all went down, we could hear the firing going around, there was pandemonium in the bus but the bus driver kept his cool and saved us."

Jayawardene also extended his gratitude.

"We owe the team bus driver our lives for his remarkable bravery in the face of direct gunfire," he said in a statement.

"Had he not had the courage and presence of mind to get the bus moving after the initial attack then we'd have been a far easier target for the terrorists.

Jayawardene passed on the team's "deepest and heartfelt condolences" to the families of the people who were killed in the attack.

Mr Kurrupu also maintained Sri Lanka did not make an error by agreeing to tour Pakistan,

"It was not a mistake to come and play in Pakistan. What happened today is tragic but we have to deal with it," he said.

Two days ago Mr Kurrupu expressed satisfaction with the security being provided to the Sri Lanka team by the Pakistan authorities.

Cricketing community shocked

Australia's cricketers personally contacted Sri Lanka's players to express their shock at the attack.

Captain Ricky Ponting released a statement saying the entire cricket community was stunned by the incident but relieved none of the Sri Lanka players were killed.

"An act of violence like this is a terrible thing and when it involves those who are part of our cricketing family, players the world over are affected," he said.

"The wider cricketing community has been shocked by what has occurred and our thoughts and full support is with those involved."

Earlier, Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland extended his sympathies to Sri Lanka, one of Australia's strongest rivals on the field.

"Australian cricket has many friends in Sri Lanka and in Pakistan and we sincerely hope they are all safe after this awful incident," Sutherland said.

Three Australians were caught up in Tuesday's ambush by a dozen unidentified gunmen in Lahore, Sri Lankan head coach Trevor Bayliss and umpires Steve Davis and Simon Taufel.

Bayliss was on the team bus while the two umpires were following in the convoy.

All three escaped injury.

Australia's former Sri Lanka coach Tom Moody said he was shaken by the attack.

"My thoughts and prayers are not only with my friends in the Sri Lankan cricket team, but with the families of everyone that has been killed or injured in today's attack," he said.

Uncertain future

Pakistani Information Minister Sherry Rehman says the incident has damaged Pakistan's reputation.

"The whole nation is united in not just grieving but condemning roundly this attack that has damaged not just the game in Pakistan, it is a national passion, but also our ability to host such matches and tournaments," she said.

Pakistani shares slumped 3 per cent on Tuesday as analysts warned the attacks would further blight business already beset by the global financial crisis.

International Cricket Council president David Morgan warned that Pakistan could not host international cricket unless it drastically improved security.

"Things will have to change dramatically in Pakistan, in my opinion, if any of the games are to be staged there," he told BBC television.

Mr Morgan says those who predicted cricket would never targeted in Pakistan have been proved wrong.

Last month, Australia forced Pakistan to change the venue of their one-day series in April/May to Dubai and Abu Dhabi because of security fears.

India also refused to send its team across the border following the Mumbai attacks and a spate of bombings in Pakistan over the past year.

Recently security concerns raised by other teams forced the ICC to move the 2009 Champions Trophy out of Pakistan.

Looks as though Pakistan is falling further and further into chaos.

Bad in itself, and scary in a nation with nuclear weapons.

Perhaps, in a cricket mad nation, it may act against the terrorists?
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Reply Tue 3 Mar, 2009 02:55 pm
bad news, pakistan is a nation in deep trouble, osama may get his nukes yet
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Finn dAbuzz
Reply Tue 3 Mar, 2009 06:19 pm
Want to bet the terrorists are Islamists?

Want to bet that the preceding bet will evoke the ire of certain A2Kers?

It certainly did when terrorists (who, by the way, proved to be Islamists) attacked Mumbai.

Because all of these terrorist attacks are being perpetrated by Islamists does not condemn Islam, but it should condemn Islamists and there is nothing to be gained (other than the comfort of PC compliance) to ignore the fact that these terrorists are muslim fanatics and a stain on their religion.

Reply Tue 3 Mar, 2009 06:25 pm
@Finn dAbuzz,
i agree, i don't get why people get upset about the whole islamist tag, they are extremists

it makes me wonder if this kind of stuff would be going on if the previous administration had kept their focus on afghanistan and not iraq
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