Pakistani terrorists assault Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore

A terrorist assault team attacked a bus carrying the Sri Lankan cricket team in the eastern city of Lahore in Pakistan’s Punjab province.

The “well-trained terrorists” killed five policemen and two civilians, and wounded seven Sri Lankan cricketers and 11 security and rescue personnel. Two of the Sri Lankans “received serious bullet injuries” while the head coach received minor injuries, the Associated Press of Pakistan reported.

The attack took place as a bus transporting the Sri Lankan team was traveling to the Gaddafi Stadium. Twelve well-armed “masked gunmen” ambushed the bus and its police escorts, sparking a 25-minute gun battle, Lahore’s police chief told AFP.

“There were 12 masked gunmen,” Habib-ur Rehman, Lahore’s Chief of Police chief told reporters. “They appeared to be well-trained terrorists. They came on rickshaws. They were armed with rockets, hand grenades, kalashnikovs.” Police eventually fended off the attack, and the terrorists disappeared into the streets of Lahore. The attack has led the Sri Lankan team to cancel its Pakistan tour.

The fallout from today’s attack was swift. In a major blow to Pakistan, the International Cricket Council has banned Pakistan from hosting international games until the security situation changes “dramatically.”

“In the current situation it is clearly a very dangerous place,” David Morgan, president of the International Cricket Council, told reporters today. “Things will have to change dramatically in Pakistan in my opinion if any of the games are to be staged there. I think that international cricket in Pakistan is out of the question until there is a very significant change, a regime change I guess.”

In the past, other countries, such as Australia, had previously expressed concerns about security for their cricket teams traveling in Pakistan.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack; however, the strike is similar to a wave of military-styled assaults by al Qaeda-linked terror groups against civilian targets in Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, and Yemen. The most recent attack took place in Kabul, where what is believed to be a Haqqani Network cell assaulted the Justice and Education ministries as well as the Prisons Directorate headquarters. The deadly November 2008 terror assault on the Indian financial capital of Mumbai was also carried out by a well-armed, well trained assault squad from the Lashkar-e-Taiba.

The Taliban, al Qaeda, the Haqqani Network, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Harakat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami, Harakat-ul-Mujahideen, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, and a host of Pakistani jihadi terror groups have joined forces to battle both the Pakistani military in the Northwest Frontier Province and the NATO and Afghan forces in Afghanistan. Al Qaeda has revived its paramilitary army, formerly known as the 055 Brigade and now known as the Lashkar al Zil, or Shadow Army. The Shadow Army contains fighters from each of these terror groups, and trains in camps in the Northwest Frontier Province and the tribal areas.

Pakistani security officials and pundits have tried to shift the blame for today’s assault to India. Khushro Pervaiz, Lahore’s Commissioner, said that India’s involvement in the assault cannot be ruled out.

Hamid Gul, the former chief of Pakistan’s notorious Inter-Services Intelligence agency who has strong ties to the Taliban and al Qaeda, told Geo News that the attack was part of a conspiracy by India to paint Pakistan as a terror state. Gul is thought to be one of the Pakistanis behind the Mumbai assault, intelligence officials told The Long War Journal last year.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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9 Comments

  • Ayamo says:

    This is NOT good. Not good at all.
    The Taliban and their allies really do have a long arm in Pakistan…

  • Abdul says:

    The terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore has all the hallmarks of an Al Qaeda inspired attack, planned by the ISI and executive by the Taliban/ Sipah-e-Sahaba. Unless the backbone of the ISI is broken through a UN led inquiry, exposing the role of the ISI-Taliban alliance in the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, as well as the Mumbai and Lahore attacks, the menace of terrorism will remain invincible in the region. To start with, arrest General Hamid Gul, Hafiz Muhammad Saeed and Baitullah Mehsud, and produce in a UN-led tribunal.

  • Ayamo says:

    “Unless the backbone of the ISI is broken through a UN led inquiry”
    I doubt that the Pakistani poeple would let this happen.
    They would consider this as an attack on their sovereignity and therefore never accept it.

  • Raven says:

    Agree with Abdul. Breaking ISI backbone is a very good start.
    I also read that these terrorists got away on rickshaw’s after half an hour of gun fight and no one was caught. That doesn’t add up… Hope Pakistanis will get to the bottom of it all.

  • rational enquirer says:

    Perhaps this attack is another provocation intended to draw attention away from the tribal areas and to make it seem that ISI and its cohorts are still needed on the eastern front. It certainly serves to undermine any cohesion in a democratic Pakistani government.

  • Tim says:

    Why not the Tamil Tigers? Could have been done directly by them or they may have paid for it to be done. They are pretty desperate.
    //www.smh.com.au/world/tamils-fear-retribution-as-they-are-placed-on-list-of-suspects-20090303-8nh4.html?page=1

  • Marlin says:

    The Punjab Governor and Police Chief give what seems to me a pretty realistic description of what likely happened. I wonder how Zardari and Gilani will spin it in the days to come?

    Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer told reporters the assailants had been chased into the nearby Liberty Market, where police lost track of them. Police then searched buildings and stopped cars in a massive security sweep. “They were determined … it was a thoroughly prepared operation,”

  • Marlin says:

    If these details are true, it could have been a lot worse.

    They defused a bomb installed in a car at the Liberty square. Another bomb was defused in Firdous Market parking area.
    The police till the filing of this report arrested about 12 suspects. Further search operation was under way in different localities of the city, including Makkah Colony where the police found a bag full of arms. The police was also in the process of releasing sketches of the terrorists. Meanwhile, similar bags of weapons were also found at nine other places in the city.

    AAJ TV: Gunmen wound Sri Lankan cricketers; seven policemen among eight killed

  • Neo says:

    A terrorist attack on a cricket team?
    Good grief! Things really have gone from bad to weird. Strange! Strange! Very Strange! I wonder what really is behind this. Did somebody lose a bet? I’m not really surprised no one is claming responsibility. This is the same sort of mentality that caused the Danish cartoon crises and blew up the Bimiyan Boddahs.

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