3/3/09

Srilanka cricket team attacked in Pakistan - 4 seriously injured

. 3/3/09

Videos : Srilanka cricket team attacked in Pakistan




In an incident which could have turned many fears to reality, the convoy of Sri Lankan cricket team was attacked by unidentified gunmen at Gaddafi stadium in Lahore. At least 12 gunmen have been reported to be involved in the attack.

Seven players of the Sri Lankan cricket team have been injured. Five policemen who were trying to shield the van carrying the cricketers have been killed in the encounter.

Four of the cricket players are seriously injured - Thilan Samaraweera, Kumar Sangakara, Ajanta Mendis and Tharanga Paranavithana.

The gunfire is reported to have continued for 25 minutes. Two bombs were also thrown at the convoy.

The police surrounded the van carrying the cricketers. The gunmen had heavy ammunition including rocket launchers also.

BBC Reports:
The incident happened when unidentified gunmen fired on a convoy carrying Sri Lankan cricketers.

Pakistani officials said about 12 gunmen were involved and grenades and rocket launchers were recovered from the scene.

At least five policemen have been killed in the attack, police say.

Sri Lanka Sports Minister Gamini Lokuge told the BBC that early reports indicated that the injuries to five players and a coach were minor.

Sri Lankan media reports said two of the players including Thilan Samaraweera, who scored a double century in the ongoing Test match, have been taken to hospital.

"Five [of our] cricketers have injuries, but they are OK. But the players are shocked. They have never gone through anything like this before," former Sri Lankan player Sanath Jayasuriya told an Indian news channel on the phone from Colombo.

The BBC's Barbara Plett in Islamabad says the gunmen opened fire on the Sri Lankan team bus which was on its way to the Gaddafi stadium, venue for a Test match between the two sides.

The third day of play in the Second Test was scheduled to begin, but officials said the match has now been cancelled.

"It appears that our team bus was targeted on the way to the match. It appears that four of our cricketers have been injured and taken to the hospital," a Sri Lankan cricket official told an Indian TV channel from Colombo.

TV pictures showed two gunmen with backpacks on the road where the incident happened.

The police believe that "10 to 12" attackers came to the scene in auto rickshaws, according to Lahore police chief Habibur Rahman.

Grenades and rocket launchers had been found at the site of the incident, the police said.

An eyewitness told Reuters news agency that three policemen and a traffic warden had been killed in the incident.

Shop owner Ahmed Ali said two policemen had been driving behind the team bus when the attack happened.

"It was a very heavy firing and I heard at least two explosions at the time," an eyewitness told Reuters.

Pakistan invited Sri Lanka to tour after India's cricket team pulled out of a scheduled cricket tour following the deadly November attacks in the western Indian city of Mumbai.

Our correspondent says the incident will come as a big blow to Pakistan cricket.
India and Australia have pulled out of cricket tours to the country in the recent past citing security concerns.

Meanwhile, the sport's world governing body, the International Cricket Council, last month decided not to hold the 2009 Champions Trophy in Pakistan due to safety worries.

The eight-nation tournament was to be held in September and October.

Pakistan, along with India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh are due to jointly host the Cricket World Cup in 2011.

BBC





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