1. Masked gunmen ambush the players’ convoy, firing at least one rocket grenade, and killing five police officers in an escort vehicle and one other on the ground. Several players are injured.
2. The driver speeds the team bus to the Gaddafi Stadium where the players are airlifted by helicopter to safety.
3. Gunmen escape in the direction of Liberty Market. Ammunition and weapons, including a rocket launcher, found.
Eyewitnesses to Tuesday’s attack on Sri Lanka’s cricketers described scenes of shock and horror as gunmen opened fire in the heart of the Pakistani city of Lahore. “As the Sri Lankan team was approaching the stadium for the test match this morning, about a half a kilometre away from the stadium, two cars entered the roundabout… and fired a grenade,” said Graham Usher, a British journalist, who was approaching the area just as the attack took place. “As they did this, three other gunmen ran into the roundabout, where the bus was, opened fire on a police vehicle – where a police officer was killed – and then opened fire on the bus, spraying the bus we understand with machine gun fire,” he told the BBC’s Today programme.
The gunmen targeted the wheels of the bus first and then the bus,” Sri Lankan cricketer Mahela Jayawardene told cricinfo web site. “We all dived to the floor to take cover.”
The driver of the bus carrying the Sri Lankan team, Khalil Ahmed, said: “As we approached the city’s Liberty Roundabout, I slowed down. Just then what seemed to be a rocket was fired at my coach, but it missed and I think flew over the top of the vehicle. “Almost immediately afterwards a person ran in front of the bus and threw a grenade in our direction. But it rolled underneath the coach and did not seem to cause that much damage. Soon after that the vehicles were shot at, before Mr Ahmed drove off at top speed. He said the attackers were all aged between 20 and 30 and many had beards.
Another bus carrying the umpires for the game also came under fire, said a Pakistani umpire whose bus was stopped just behind the Sri Lankan players. “The firing started at about 0840 (0340 GMT) and it continued for 15 minutes. Our driver was hit, and he was injured,” Nadeem Ghauri was quoted by the Associated Press news agency as saying.
Lahore resident Ahmad Hassan described the chaos on the streets as he was driving to work near the cricket stadium.”People got straight out of their cars, they were panicking and running in the road,” he told the BBC. “All I could think of was that I might be killed by a stray bullet… It was the worst day of my life.”
Former England cricketer Dominic Cork – who was providing commentary for the series – said he heard the loud gunfire shortly after he arrived at Gaddafi stadium and rushed into the commentary box to see what was happening.
“The Sri Lankan team bus had arrived with bullet holes all over. There was a lot of, obviously, screaming and shouting from the medical staff of the Sri Lankan team. We could see that at least six players at that time I knew had got wounds.”
“They all hit the ground, then there was shrapnel flying all over,” Mr Cork said.
He said one of the players remembered thinking, “This is it. I’m dead.”
Journalist Graham Usher said police were investigating the scene. “There are two white cars that were apparently used in the ambush that are being investigated by police officers, and there is the police van that bore the brunt of the gunfire,” he said. “There are two white cars that were apparently used in the ambush that are being investigated by police officers, and there is the police van that bore the brunt of the gunfire,” he said.
“One of the police officers, we understand, was killed in this van. It is surrounded by broken glass and there is blood spilled and congealed on the seats and there is a real sense of shock and bewilderment as hundreds of local journalists and police are milling around.”
Punjab Governor Salman Taseer arrived at the scene about an hour after the attack. “These [attackers] were fully trained people, the way they were running and the kind of weapons they had… they are the same [type of] people who launched attacks in Mumbai. They were no ordinary terrorists.”
For this topic also see Chapter VI in Michael Roberts, Intrusions and Excursions in and around Sri Lankan Cricket, Colombo, 2011, publd by author, ISBN 978-955-53198-0-5 which is available through www.vijithayapa.com OR www.srilankanbooks.com