Gunmen attacked a bus carrying the Sri Lankan national cricket team Tuesday morning as it approached Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore for a match against Pakistan, wounding six or seven players, authorities and team officials said.
“When we spoke to the team manager, it appeared that there are a couple of gunshot wounds and a couple of shrapnel wounds,” said Charith Senanayake, the team’s media manager. The injured players have been taken to the hospital. Local media reported that at least five security personnel were killed and several others were wounded. “This is a very well-planned attack,” according to security official Nadeem Sayed, who said some of the players were in serious condition. “The team is very much scared.” At least four gunmen were involved in the attack on the bus, Sayed said. “I heard two loud explosions outside the stadium and a lot of AK-47 fire,” said Hamish Roberts, a camera operator who was inside the stadium when the attack occurred. “It was pandemonium for a while.” Sports producer Gavin Scovell said security teams responded quickly.
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“The guards were brilliant. They weren’t panicking. They were very calm,” Scovell said. “It must have been a terrifying experience, but they handled it well.” Many teams — most recently the Australia and India national teams — won’t travel to Pakistan for cricket matches because of security concerns. The Pakistani government has struggled to control terrorism. The Taliban and other insurgents have carved havens in Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province. Former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, 54, was heading the opposition to then-President Pervez Musharraf when she was assassinated in December 2007 during a campaign rally in Rawalpindi ahead of parliamentary elections.
The Pakistani government and CIA officials said Baitullah Mehsud, leader of the Taliban in Pakistan, was responsible for her death. India has long blamed Pakistan for being a haven for extremists who have launched attacks in India, including an attack on India’s parliament in 2002 and the November 2008 attacks in Mumbai.