Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Pakistan - terrorists target cricket team

At least 7 members of the Sri Lankan cricket team have been injured in a terrorist attack in Lahore, Pakistan. Twelve armed terrorists carried out the coordinated attack as the convoy of vehicles carrying the team approached the Gaddafi stadium. As well as automatic weapons, a rocket launcher was also used in the attack. However the missile failed to reach its intended target, that of the coach carrying the team which was within a kilometre of the stadium.
Amongst the injured were the assistant coach, Paul Farbrace, and players Thilan Samaraweera, Tharanga Paranavitana, Mahela Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara, Ajantha Mendis, Suranka Lakmal and Chaminda Vaas. Samaraweera and Paranavitana are said to have been seriously injured and were conveyed to hospital. Five policemen and a driver were killed. The tour was immediately cancelled and the team was quickly conveyed to the Gaddafi stadium where a waiting helicopter ferried them out of the country.

The attack took place at around 08:30 local time and continued for thirty minutes. A police spokesman said the terrorists were armed with Kalashnikovs, hand grenades and rocket launchers. Following the incident all the terrorists managed to slip away, though the police spokesman insisted they would be captured or killed.

However, the attack has shown that the Pakistani authorities are not prepared and ill equipped to cope with such attacks. “You cannot guarantee safety in Pakistan,” Tim Marshall, Sky’s International Correspondent said. He described the Pakistani authorities and being ineffective. They were “Out manoeuvred, out gunned and out foxed” he added. The country is becoming increasingly unstable, especially in the north of the country and this high profile incident will do nothing to improve Pakistan’s image abroad. The incident will also create some concern around the world. “I don’t think any team will want to go to Pakistan in the next few years,” Tim Marshall said. But there’s not just the sporting world that will be rattled by these events. Pakistan is a nuclear power, and there has long been a concern in the West that the weapons may fall into the hands of terrorists or an extremist government. The war in Afghanistan is slowly but surely spreading across the borders into its neighbour. This will raise more concerns in Washington as Barack Obama refocuses his war on terror [BBC / Sky News / CNN / al Jazeera].

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