The 21st Century Phenomenon



Sri Lanka’s cricket team was attacked, on Tuesday 03/03/2009 morning, at about 08:40, when the team was approaching the stadium for the test match in the last half km from Liberty square in the center of Lahore, to Gaddafi Stadium. Lahore is the capital of Punjab valley in Pakistan. 

When the cricket team’s bus, escorted by police entered th Liberty square roundabout fire was opened from the street at the bus.  Three of the attackers opened fire on the police escort where a police officer was killed. Immediately afterwards a person ran in front of the bus and threw a grenade toward the cricket bus, while others opened fire on the rear police car.  

Soon after that the vehicles were shot at, the bus was driven off at top speed to the Gaddafi Stadium where the Sri Lanka team was rescued by army helicopters. From initial reports 7 people were killed in the shooting, 6 policemen and a local driver.  According to eye witnesses the attackers were all aged between 20 and 30 and many had beards.

Another bus carrying the umpires for the game also came under fire, said a Pakistani umpire whose bus was stopped just behind the Sri Lankan players. The attack lasted about 15 minutes. Pakistan has no conflict with Sri Lanka on any important issue. 

Two members of the Sri Lankan team, Thilan Samaraweera and Tharanga Paranavitana, were sent to hospital but later released.   

Sri Lanka is recently gaining the upper hand in the long bloody civil war against the Tamil Tigers in the North-East of the island. It is possible that a team of the Tamil rebels arrived to Lahore to commit an attack where they are the least expected.

A second option is that Islamic militants, affiliated to Lashkar-e-Toiba and the like, who are under heavy pressure after the Mumbai Carnage in India, which was planned and prepared in Lahore, are trying to warn the Pakistani regime not to go to far in its investigation over the case and with the arrests of many senior Islamic activists (see – Mangla Dam).

Investigation ; 

* Footages from security cameras in the area of the attack showed that some of the attackers came to the spot by foot and on motorbikes, others were already waiting in side streets near Liberty square. They left the same way.

* The attackers left behind a relative large stockpile of weapons, which including hand grenades, assault riffles, pistols, rocket launchers and a significant amount of ammunition. It indicts that the attackers planned a larger scale massacre and failed partially – probably because the heavy presence of the Pakistani police guards.  Since it is hard to believe that all this amount of weapons were smuggled from Sri Lanka to Lahore it also indicates that the attackers had roots in Lahore or, at least, in Pakistan.   

* About 100 people were arrested and interrogated by the Pakistani police. A reward of $125,000 has been offered for help in finding those behind Tuesday’s attack. Police also released, on Thursday o3/05/2009, some description of the assailants.

* By examining all the evidences and questioning all the witnesses the Pakistani police came to the conclusion that up to 14 assailants took part in the attack. On Friday 03/06/2009 an anonymous security source liked out that there are clues that Islamic militants are behind the attack.  

* The Pakistani police said, on Wednesday 06/17/2009 evening, they had arrested one of seven men from a group linked to Taliban, who are accused of carrying out the attack (see – Suspect Zubair). 


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