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Rediff.com  » News » Attack came despite change in Lankan team route

Attack came despite change in Lankan team route

By Sheela Bhatt
March 03, 2009 11:53 IST
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"It was a daring attack on Sri Lankan cricketers by around a dozen young gunmen, reminding one of the Mumbai terror attacks," says well known Pakistani editor Hamid Mir, speaking to rediff.com from Islamabad.

He said given the threat perception for the Sri Lankan cricket team, they had taken a different route on Tuesday and yet were attacked.

"From their hotel, Pearl Intercontinental in Lahore, to the cricket stadium they usually go through the road along the canal. But today they took the route through Liberty market," he said.

According to reports, the gunmen were carrying weapons in sacks and were dressed like college students.

From their appearance they looked like Ajmal Kasab, who was among 10 terrorists who attacked Mumbai on November 26, 2008.

Mir says around eight to 10 gunmen came from one side and four to five gunmen came from the other side to attack the cricketers. When the security commandos took up position to protect the cricketers they were hit by the bullets, killing four of them.

In view of the Mumbai attacks and because of the threat to security to its cricketers, India had refused to send its team to Pakistan but Sri Lanka agreed to replace them. The current attack is one more severe setback to the image of Pakistan as an unsafe place for foreigners.   
 
Mir says, "We are not surprised. Similar attacks are being carried out every day in Swat valley. Today it has happened before the full glare of the media.''
He said the timing of the attack is significant.

Interestingly, Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon had recently met his Sri Lankan counterpart, and communication channels between the two nations were just opening up.

Hamid Gul, former chief of Inter Services Intelligence, has quickly blamed the Indian external intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing for the attack.

Mir added, "It is difficult to say who attacked the Sri Lankan team," and refused to comment on Gul's allegation against India. He also pointed out that the Lashkar e Tayiba was not opposed to the Sri Lankans.

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Sheela Bhatt