Gunmen attack Sri Lankan cricket team in Pakistan

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Thread: Gunmen attack Sri Lankan cricket team in Pakistan

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    Distinguished Member Array nutz4utwo's Avatar
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    Gunmen attack Sri Lankan cricket team in Pakistan

    Just found this one on the news and didn't see it here on DC yet. This is a big one. Cricket is a HUGE sport in that part of the world.

    Gunmen attack Sri Lankan cricket team in Pakistan

    Gunmen attack Sri Lankan cricket team in Pakistan

    By RIZWAN ALI, Associated Press Writer Rizwan Ali, Associated Press Writer 16 mins ago

    LAHORE, Pakistan At least a dozen men ambushed Sri Lanka's cricket team with rifles, grenades and rocket launchers Tuesday, converging on the squad's convoy as it drove through a traffic circle near an eastern Pakistani stadium.

    Seven players, an umpire and a coach were wounded, none with life-threatening injuries, but six policemen and a driver died.

    The attackers struck as a convoy carrying the squad and match officials reached a traffic circle 300 yards (meters) from the main sports stadium in the eastern city of Lahore, triggering a 15-minute gunbattle with police guarding the vehicles.

    The assault, just ahead of a match, was one of the worst terrorist attacks on a sports team since Palestinian militants killed 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics.

    By attacking South Asia's most popular sport, the gunmen guaranteed themselves tremendous international attention while demonstrating Pakistan's struggle to provide its 170 million people with basic security as it battles a raging Islamist militancy.

    Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said the incident "has humiliated the country" and the head of the Interior Ministry, Rehman Malik, declared Pakistan was "in a state of war."

    Malik told The Associated Press that authorities were investigating whether the attackers wanted to take hostages.

    "We are looking at the possibility the gunmen wanted to hijack the bus and take it to a nearby building and create a drama," Malik said. "The way they came prepared and in large numbers indicates such a plan."

    Tuesday's attackers melted away into the city, and none was killed or captured, city police chief Haji Habibur Rehman said. The attackers abandoned machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades and plastic explosives, Punjab police chief Khwaja Khalid Farooq said. They carried backpacks stuffed with dried fruit, mineral water and walkie-talkies provisions also abandoned at or near the scene, officials said.

    Authorities did not speculate on the identities of the attackers, but the chief suspects will be Islamist militants, some with links to al-Qaida, who have staged high-profile attacks on civilian targets before.

    The bus driver, Mohammad Khalil, accelerated as bullets ripped into the vehicle and explosions rocked the air, steering the team to the safety of the stadium. The players some of them wounded ducked down and shouted "Go! Go!" as he drove through the ambush.

    Sri Lanka had agreed to this tour allowing Pakistan to host its first test matches in 14 months only after India and Australia backed out of scheduled trips over security concerns. The assault will end hopes of international cricket teams or any sports teams playing in the country for months, if not years.

    Tuesday's attack came three months after the Mumbai terror strikes that killed 164 people. Those raids were allegedly carried out by Pakistan militants, and the assault in Lahore resembled them in many respects. Both were coordinated, used multiple gunmen, apparently in teams of two, who were armed with explosives and assault rifles and apparently had little fear of death or capture.

    U.S. State Department spokesman Gordon Duguid told reporters in Washington that the United States "utterly" condemned "this vicious attack on innocent civilians but also on the positive relations that Pakistan and Sri Lanka are trying to enjoy."

    Authorities will also consider possible links to Sri Lanka's Tamil Tiger separatist rebels who are being badly hit in a military offensive at home, though Sri Lankan military spokesman Brig. Udaya Nanayakkara said it was unlikely the group was involved.

    Authorities canceled the test match against Pakistan's national team, and Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa ordered his foreign minister to immediately travel to Pakistan to help assist in the team's evacuation.

    A special flight is expected to bring the players home in the early hours of Wednesday, according to a Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry official.

    TV footage of the attack showed at least two pairs of gunmen with backpacks firing from a stretch of grass and taking cover behind a small monument before moving on. It was taken from the offices of a Pakistani news channel overlooking the site of the ambush.

    "These people were highly trained and highly armed. The way they were holding their guns, the way they were taking aim and shooting at the police, it shows they were not ordinary people," said Salman Taseer, the governor of Punjab province. "This is the same style as the terrorists who attacked Mumbai."

    An Associated Press reporter saw police handling what looked like two suicide jackets.

    "It is a terrible incident, and I am lost for words," said Steve Davis, an Australian who was to have umpired the match.

    Lahore police chief Rehman said "between 12 and 14 men" took part in the assault and they resembled Pashtuns, the ethnic group that hails from close to the Afghan border, the stronghold of al-Qaida and the Taliban. He said officers were hunting them down.

    Two Sri Lankan players Thilan Samaraweera and Tharanga Paranavitana were being treated for bullet wounds in a hospital but were stable, said Chamara Ranavira, a spokesman for the Sri Lankan High Commission.

    Umpire Ahsan Raza was hit in his abdomen, medical Superintendent of the Services Hospital, Mohammad Javed, said.

    Team captain Mahela Jayawardene and four other players had minor injuries, the Sri Lankan Cricket Board said. Ranavira said British assistant coach Paul Farbrace also sustained minor injuries.

    Haider Ashraf, another police officer, said six policemen and a driver of a Pakistan Cricket Board vehicle were killed.

    Sri Lankan Foreign Secretary Palitha Kohona said little could be done to stop such an attack, saying "there is never enough security to counter a well organized and determined terrorist group."

    The Dubai-based International Cricket Council condemned the attack. But ICC President David Morgan told the British Broadcasting Corp. that the organization had no role in deciding on whether Pakistan was safe enough for a tour since Sri Lanka and Pakistan agreed to the match.

    One militant group likely to fall under particular suspicion is Lashkar-e-Taiba, the network blamed for the Mumbai terror attacks in November, in which 10 gunmen staged a three-day siege targeting luxury hotels, a Jewish center and other sites.

    In the past, India and Pakistan have blamed each other for attacks on their territories. Any allegations like that will trigger fresh tensions between the countries, which are already dangerously high.
    Kudos to India and Australia for taking their security concerns seriously and staying home!

    I think those police guards need some better training. 6 were killed and they didn't manage to kill/arrest a single terrorist. They probably only had handguns...

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  3. #2
    Ex Member Array JOHNSMITH's Avatar
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    I'm sure the police were adequately armed, but it sounds to me like an urban ambush in a relatively crowded area where traffic tends to back up. Probably one of the worst situations to be in - not that I'm a security expert, but if I were on the ground, I feel that I'd be in a serious disadvantage. For the gunmen, it was probably like shooting fish in a barrel.

    The hostage situation makes sense considering that they managed to kill the policeman but not the players. That was probably on purpose (to spare the players, due to the expectation of taking hostages).

    Sad, and Sri Lanka already sees enough violence (although its from a non-Islamist terrorist group there).

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    Member Array mutumbo's Avatar
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    they also had the element of surprise. . . .

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    Referee in deadly Pakistan ambush says police fled

    ...On Wednesday, new video from a surveillance camera broadcast on local TV showed several attackers apparently escaping along a deserted side street on motorcycles while carrying weapons. Three were also shown walking down the middle of the street, apparently in no hurry, indicating they did not believe police were in the area or hunting them down.

    "There was not a sign of a policeman anywhere," Broad, the referee, said Wednesday after his arrival back in Britain. "They had clearly left the scene and left us to be sitting ducks." He did not say how long his van was stationary. Other witnesses described police and the gunmen trading fire for around 15 minutes during the attack, but at least one of the players said the gunmen appeared to fire at will.

    "They were not under pressure ... nobody was firing at them," said team captain Mahela Jayawardene said....
    I feel very fortunate that we have the police in this country that we do.

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