Pakistani police made several arrests Wednesday as they continued to hunt for the gunmen responsible for an attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team which left seven people dead.
Authorities released photos of two suspects involved in the ambush on the visiting team’s convoy Tuesday as players and match officials made their way to Lahore’s cricket stadium, killing six police officers and a driver. They also offered a 10 million rupee ($125,000) reward for information leading to arrests. Investigators cannot yet say who was behind the attack. Sri Lanka’s cricketers returned home to Colombo early Wednesday. The worst injured were Tharanga Paranavitana and Thilan Samaraweera who suffered gunshot wounds to the chest and leg respectively. Neither man’s injuries are believed to be life-threatening. Six other players were hurt by shrapnel and glass. Read profiles of the wounded players » Sri Lankan vice-captain Kumar Sangakkara told CNN that Paranavitana and Samaraweera were due to undergo surgery later Wednesday. He said Samaraweera still had a bullet in his leg. Describing the attack in an interview with CNN, Sri Lanka’s coach Trevor Bayliss said he was thankful that none of his squad had been killed. “The first indication was an explosion which someone said later was a rocket launcher that missed the bus and went over the top and hit somewhere in front of us,” Bayliss said. Watch Bayliss describe the attack » He said two cars then pulled up in front of the convoy, blocking its path. Gunmen jumped out of the cars and started firing, sending bullets ripping through the bus. “By that stage everyone was one the ground… Surprisingly it was very calm. There was not a lot we could do except keep low as possible and hope for the best. Every now and then someone would just yell out and say ‘I’m hit.'”
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Bayliss paid tribute to the bus driver who managed to steer the vehicle to safety inside the stadium. “He jumped back in his seat with all the bullets coming through the bus and he got us into the stadium. It wasn’t until we got into the stadium that we could see how hurt some of the players were.” Watch footage of the gunmen staging their attack » The brazen attack has sent shock waves across the cricket-crazy Indian subcontinent and raised fears about the future of the sport in Pakistan, which has been reeling from a string of terrorist attacks. iReport: Send us your videos, photos Teams have long stayed away from Pakistan, concerned about the security situation in a country that is battling an escalating pro-Taliban insurgency. “The events can only be described as shocking, and we send our sympathy to the relatives of those who lost their lives,” International Cricket Council President David Morgan said at a news conference in London Tuesday. “On many occasions we’ve been told that cricketers would never be targeted in Pakistan. And this morning’s events have proved that to be quite incorrect.” Watch ICC’s reaction to the attack » Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari praised Pakistani police, saying the officers “rose to the occasion and laid down their lives to protect our Sri Lankan guests.” He also telephoned Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa to express his condemnation and regrets, and to emphasize his determination to investigate. Watch Sri Lankan’s foreign minister condemnation of the attack » Sri Lanka — a country enduring its own civil war with separatist rebels — agreed in December to visit for a series of matches, after the Indian cricket team called off its tour following the deadly terror attacks in Mumbai in November. Indian authorities blamed those attacks on Pakistan-based militants. Along with with India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, Pakistan had been due to stage matches in the Cricket World Cup in 2011 but cricket authorities have admitted the prospect of Pakistan playing any hosting role in that tournament now appears unlikely.
Ehsan Mani, a Pakistani cricket official who was president of the ICC from 2003 to 2006, said it would be years before international cricket would be played in Pakistan again and the said plans for the entire 2011 World Cup were in doubt because of recent violence in all four countries of the Indian subcontinent. “I would be surprised if it does take place there (in Pakistan), but I’ve got a bigger concern,” Mani told CNN. “I think the whole of the subcontinent is going to be under pressure.”