Nothing is sacred (except their own mad ideology) for jihadi terrorists; I know I’m making an assumption but I can’t see the Tamil Tigers behind this. I suppose cricket itself is un-Islamic and must be banned:
Hunt for Lahore cricket attackers
Pakistani police are hunting gunmen who attacked a convoy carrying Sri Lanka’s cricket team in the city of Lahore.
The masked men opened fire, killing six policemen escorting the Sri Lankans and a driver. Seven players and an assistant coach were wounded.
There is no word on the identities or motives of the gunmen, who escaped. No arrests have been made so far.
However officials said the incident bore similarities to deadly attacks in Mumbai in India last November.
The Mumbai bombings were blamed on Pakistan-based Islamic militants.
Officials said about 12 gunmen were involved in Tuesday’s attack on the Liberty Square roundabout in the heart of Lahore…
Two International Cricket Council executives at a press conference in London said, interestingly, that their intelligence–from consultants–was that in fact there was a greater terrorist risk under new the civilian government than under Gen. Musharraf’s regime. Things sure are going downhill. And what a strange world it is now, in which international sports organizations have their own intelligence suppliers.
Maybe the attack was originally planned against the Indian team, which cancelled its tour after the Mumbai massacre. The Sri Lankans then volunteered to take the Indians’ place. So perhaps the terrorists simply decided to go ahead, with a different, and less welcome, target. One which would not be as terribly inflammatory internationally, but one which nevertheless emphasizes the increasingly dire situation within Pakistan. Indeed, for the international community the country is less and less safe–and the jihadis clearly want to frighten foreigners away (remember the bombing of the Marriott Hotel, Islamabad).
One possible positive note. The Pakistanis, like others of the subcontinent, are cricket-crazy. This attack will ensure that no international matches are played in Pakistan for the foreseeable future. That should greatly anger a very large number of Pakistanis, turn some of them firmly against Islamist terrorism–and might make people more willing to provide the authorities with information on the bad guys.
I smell another army coup, sooner rather than later; lets just hope it’s not led by Islamists within the army (see second comment here).
For the moment, some Pakistanis are wallowing in conspiracy theories, to which they are exceptionally prone:
“Everyone at the hospital was saying the same thing,” Ali Raza told me later that night, as we stood in line at a brightly lighted stall selling paan — a mild stimulant made with betel nuts — near the Main Market roundabout, just a short walk away from the site of the attack. “They were saying that this was done to show the Indians that we in Pakistan are also the victims of terrorism.”
“You think our own government did it?” I asked.
“No one else could get away with this kind of thing,” he insisted…
Damian adds: the Beeb lists several possible culprits – Lashkar-e-Taiba (which allegedly carried out the Mumbai attacks in November), the Taliban, or rogue elements within the Pakistani government. The Tigers can’t be ruled out either, but the report says they haven’t been known to operate in Pakistan. (Plus, the Sri Lankan cricket team includes Tamil players.)
Tim Blair, who actually understands the game of cricket (weirdo…), has been all over this story. Steyn, meanwhile, also thinks this might turn cricket-obsessed Pakistanis against the Islamists presumably responsible:
The slaughter of the Israeli athletes was extremely popular among wide swathes of Arab public opinion. By contrast, the attempted slaughter of Sri Lankan cricketers is unlikely to be terribly popular among Pakistanis at large. Pakistanis like to watch first-class cricket: It’s one of their few functioning links with the wider world — or, at any rate, the British Commonwealth bits of it — and one of the last things that prevent them from sinking entirely into a toxic Islamist squat. The New Zealand team has already canceled its tour on security grounds. England, Oz, the Windies, South Africa will do likewise. The scheduled co-hosting of the 2011 Cricket World Cup by Pakistan now has a big question mark over it.
It’s been said that white South Africans put up with the economic and political sanctions imposed on their country during the apartheid era – but being banned from international cricket was just too much to take.