Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Lahore police arrest Sri Lanka cricket team attackers

Police in Lahore, Pakistan, have announced that another six members of the gang that attacked the Sri Lankan cricket team in March 2009 have been arrested following a tip-off. They also recovered a suicide jacket, four AK47 assault rifles, eight hand grenades and hundreds of bullets. The men were living in a rented house at Gujjar Colony, near the Tomb of Jehangir.
At least six security personnel were killed in the attack at Liberty Square and two members of the Sri Lankan team were injured -including batsman Thilan Samaraweera who suffered a bullet wound to the leg.
The arrested men told police that they had wanted to capture the Sri Lankan cricketers and exchange them for imprisoned jihadists. They failed due to the bravery of the coach driver, who managed to manoeuvre the team coach away from the assailants.
The police in Lahore described the men as members of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), although this seems unlikely. One comes from Karachi, while the other five all come from towns in the Punjab - hundreds of miles from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas where the TTP is entrenched. Much more likely is that the arrested men were members of the Lashkar-e-Toiba, who sometimes like to masquerade as members of the Punjabi Taliban. Video footage shot on the day shows killers dressed and operating in almost exactly the same way as the team sent to Mumbai a few months before in November 2008.
They are also suspected of being from Lashkar-e-Toiba.
* Police in Jakarta, Indonesia also announced on Wednesday that one of the masterminds behind the October 2002 Bali bombings had been arrested in Pakistan. They said that Umar Patek was arrested the previous day, although the Pakistan authorities have yet to confirm the arrest or exactly where it took place. 
Patek has been on the run for years and has a $1 million bounty on his head under the US Rewards for Justice programme. He was the alleged field coordinator for the bombings of nightclubs in the resort island, which killed 202 people, many of them Australians. He is suspected of being a member of Jemaah Islamiyah and was thought to have been hiding in the Philippines.


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