- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 3, 2009

LAHORE, Pakistan (AP) — A dozen masked gunmen armed with rifles and rocket launchers attacked a vehicle carrying members of Sri Lanka’s national cricket team Tuesday, wounding at least two players and killing five police officers, officials said.

The attack in Lahore came at a time of unrest in both Pakistan and Sri Lanka, both of whom are trying to defeat insurgencies. It was unclear who was behind the assault, but it appeared to have been carefully coordinated.

City police chief Haji Habibur Rehman said five policemen died in the shooting and that two players were wounded. A Pakistan Cricket Board security official had earlier said eight players were wounded.

“It was a terrorist attack and the terrorists used rocket launchers, hand grenades and other weapons,” Rehman said, adding that the police were hunting down the attackers who managed to flee. “Our police sacrificed their lives to protect the Sri Lankan team.”

He said one wounded player was hit in the leg while the other received a bullet in the chest.

Sri Lankan team manager Brendon Kruppu said the team’s batsman, Kumar Sangakkara, was among those injured near Gaddafi Stadium ahead of a game. Rehman said 12 masked gunmen participated in the attack. Footage from the scene Tuesday showed the team’s white van with its front window shattered as security officials tried to gain control of the scene in an intersection.

Security concerns have plagued Pakistan for years and some foreign sports teams have refused to play here.

Most of the violence in Pakistan occurs in its northwest regions bordering Afghanistan, where Taliban and al-Qaida militants have established strongholds. Lahore has not been immune from militant violence however, and at least one attack in recent months in the northwest has occurred next to a sports stadium.

Sri Lanka appeared on the brink of crushing the Tamil Tiger rebels after more than a quarter century of civil war.

In recent months, government forces have pushed the guerrillas out of much of the de facto state they controlled in the north of the Indian Ocean island nation and trapped them in a small patch of land along the coast.

The rebels, who are fighting for an independent state for Sri Lanka’s Tamil minority, are listed as a terror group by the U.S. and EU and are routinely blamed for suicide bombings and other attacks targeting civilians.

The rebels rarely launch attacks outside Sri Lanka, though their most prominent attack the assassination of former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi by a female suicide bomber took place at an election rally in India in 1991.


Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide