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Old 03-03-2009, 04:39 PM
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Unhappy Gunmen shoot at Sri Lankan Cricketers - Eight players injured! (updated)


Gunmen shoot at Sri Lankan Cricketers - Eight players injured! (updated)


AUSSIE umpire Steve Davis watched in horror as terrorists attacked Sri Lanka's cricket team, injuring coach Trevor Bayliss. Six members of the cricket squad, apart from Bayliss, sustained injuries in an attack that killed at least four police officers and two civilians.

Australian cricket umpire Steve Davis was travelling with other Test umpires just behind the Sri Lankan team when bullets suddenly rang out.

"It was terrible. The van driver died in front of us. I am lost for words,'' Davis said.

Officials have confirmed that the Sri Lankan squad is "safe", and suffered minor injuries only.


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Sri Lankan cricketers (top left to right) Ajantha Mendis, Mahela Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara and (bottom left to right) Thilan Samaraweera and Tharanga Paranavitana together with team coach Paul Farbrace. All six were injured during a terror attack on teh Sri Lankan team bus in Lahore today. Picture: AFP

Masked gunmen opened fire on the team's bus in the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore today, killing at least eight people and wounding six team members, police said.

Pakistani civil defence experts also defused two car bombs and recovered a stash of weapons after the deadly ambush, an official said.

Up to 12 gunmen attacked the team's convoy near the Gaddafi Stadium with rockets, hand grenades and automatic weapons, triggering a 25-minute gunbattle with security forces, said Lahore police chief chief Habib-ur Rehman.

"They appeared to be well-trained terrorists,'' said Rehman.

A police official said that two civilians and six police officers who were guarding the players were killed in the attack, which happened as the team was heading for the third day's play in the second Test against Pakistan.

Television footage showed several gunmen creeping through trees, crouching to aim their weapons and then running onto the next target.

Crystals of broken glass littered the road next to a gun cartridge and an empty rocket-propelled grenade launcher.

A police motorbike was shown crashed sideways into the road at the Liberty Chowk roundabout.

Bullet holes ripped through the windscreen of another vehicle and a white car was shown smashed headlong into the roundabout as nervous security officers guarded the site.

Pakistani officials gave no details about the fate of the gunmen who they said arrived at the scene in rickshaws.

Assistant coach, Englishman Paul Farbrace, and star batsman Thilan Samaraweera were kept in hospital, but their injuries are not believed to be life-threatening, said Sri Lanka's Sports Minister Gamini Lokuge.

Captain Mahela Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara, Tharanga Paranavithana and Ajantha Mendis suffered only minor injuries, he said.

Coach Bayliss sustained minor injuries, a team official said.

Samaraweera is one of Sri Lanka's leading players and earlier this week became only the seventh batsmen in Test cricket to notch a double hundred in consecutive matches.

The attack was described as the work of "well-trained terrorists" by the city's police chief Haji Habibur Rehman.

Sri Lanka has rushed Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollegama to Pakistan, the president's office said.

The team will immediately be pulled out of the country.

Sri Lankan team captain Mahela Jayawardene told Cricinfo players dived to the floor when the gunmen opened fire.

"The bus came under attack as we were driving to the stadium, the gunmen targeted the wheels of the bus first and then the bus," he said.

"We all dived to the floor to take cover.

"About five players have been injured and also Paul Farbrace (a member of the support staff), but most of the injuries appear to be minor at this stage and caused by debris."

Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland said Australian cricket was shocked to hear of the attack.

“Australian cricket has many friends in Sri Lanka and in Pakistan and we sincerely hope they are all safe after this awful incident,” he said on the association's website.

“Early reports are unclear but we are deeply saddened to hear reports that security officials in Pakistan have been killed in this attack.

“We will be seeking to talk to Sri Lankan and Pakistan cricket officials as soon as possible to pass on our condolences."

The second Test between Pakistan and Sri Lanka has now been called off, the Pakistan Cricket Board has confirmed.

The Sri Lankan team had stepped in to fill a gap after the Indian government had barred the Indian team from touring Pakistan in the aftermath of the terror attack in Mumbai by Pakistan-based terrorists.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack but fears of attacks by Islamic militants linked to Al-Qaida have caused many teams to postpone or cancel cricket tours to Pakistan in recent years.

The shooting also came as the Sri Lankan army pushed its final offensive against ethnic Tamil rebels in the north of the country in a civil war that has claimed tens of thousands of lives.

The brazen attack sent shockwaves through the world of cricket and immediately raised doubts about the 2011 World Cup which is due to take place in Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

"What has happened is very shocking indeed,'' said N Srinivasan, secretary of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).

"We have been saying that there was a lack of security and safety in Pakistan. But this is not the time to give statements on that. At the moment our concerns are only for the Sri Lankan players,'' he told AFP.

Australia earlier this month forced Pakistan to change the venue of a one-day series to the neutral venues of Dubai and Abu Dhabi when the two sides meet in April-May this year over security fears.

Australia, who also played Pakistan in three Tests at the neutral venues of Colombo and Dubai in 2002, have not toured here since 1998.

India also refused to send its team across the border amid heightened tensions in the wake of attacks on the Indian city of Mumbai, which New Delhi blamed on militants based in Pakistan.

Last month, security concerns raised by other teams forced the ICC to move the 2009 Champions Trophy out of Pakistan.

The event was originally scheduled for last year but was put off after South Africa pulled out of the event and Australia, England and New Zealand showed a reluctance to tour because of fears about players' safety.


Some Photages.
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Injured ... Batsmen Kumar Sangakkara is confirmed among the injured

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Thilan Samaraweera is believed to be one of the Sri Lankan cricketers rushed to hospital

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Sri Lankan coach Trevor Bayliss is said to have minor injuries

Name:  A television grab from Pakistani TV shows unidentified gunmen who fired weapons on a vehicle car.jpg
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A television grab from Pakistani TV shows unidentified gunmen who fired weapons on a vehicle carrying the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore

Name:  At least two cricketers have been rushed to hospital after suffering wound from the attack.jpg
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At least two cricketers have been rushed to hospital after suffering wound from the attack

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Samaraweera and Paranavitana were the most seriously injured but they are out of danger. "The two players are in hospital but are out of danger," Mendis told reporters adding "we are trying to get the team out of Pakistan as early as possible"
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