It was one of the sad moments in the history of the game. Sri Lankan cricketers know the deadly face of terrorism as they have witnessed in their own country. But that was the first time they are experiencing on their own. It was the strong decision by Sri Lanka cricket council to send their team to Pakistan despite security concerns but paid the price for that. One of the deadliest terror attacks on sports had illuminated the world how terrorism has made deep enroots in Pakistan. Here is the complete story of that deadly terror attack on the Sri Lanka national cricket team.
Srilanka’s tour of Pakistan 2009
As per the Future tour plan(FTP) of ICC, Sri Lanka is scheduled to play two tests and 3 one day matches in Pakistan. During that time terrorism was at its peak and there was the war between militants and terrorists. World nations have given severely condemn Pakistan for their involvement in Mumbai terror attacks. So Pakistan was forced to take severe action against terrorist groups. There was a huge uncertainty prevailed at that time and Srilankan national security officials warned their board not to travel to Pakistan citing security concerns and situation was getting worse day by day. But PCB assured the complete protection to Srilankan cricket team along with ISI. Sri Lankan players also agreed to tour Pakistan so tour commenced as per the schedule.
Srilanka clinched the one-day series with a 2-1 margin and first test which held at Karachi was drawn with Mahela Jayawardene and Younis Khan scoring the double century and triple century respectively. The second test commenced on March 1 and Srilanka won the toss and completed their first inning with mammoth 607 runs. In reply, Pakistan was on 101/1 at the end of the second day’s play. The third day’s play was about you commence and Srilankan players were traveling from hotel to stadium through the bus. Then occured that deadly incident which accounted for 6 policemen and 2 innocent civilians. 6 Sri Lankan players were wounded which made the situation even worse.
What Happened on that Day?
According to the officials, 12 gunmen from the terrorist group were hiding near the liberty statue and waited for the Sri Lankan bus to cross their way to the stadium. Once the bus crossed these gunmen started firing on the bus. Security officials didn’t expect this and they tried their level best to escort the bus from that place and started firing back at gunmen. After 20 minutes of fighting the gunmen flew away leaving rocket launchers and grenades.
Gunmen aimed the wheels of the bus and then they started firing on the bus. The attackers had fired a rocket at the bus but it missed the hit, the driver Mehar Mohammed Khalid was the hero of the incident as he kept moving the bus about 500m to reach the stadium otherwise it would have been the deadly attack. The minivan that carried the umpires and match referees were also fired and the driver was killed. Third umpire Ahsan Raza was severely injured and kept bleed till he admitted to the hospital.
Cctv footages captured the images of the gunmen who fired and escaped from the motorcycle. They were armed with AK-47 rifles and other explosive charges. Cctv footage was made public and that was the evidence of that deadliest attack ever on sportsmen. Srilankan cricket team was taken to the stadium and immediate arrangements were done for their safe return to Sri Lanka. The second test was abandoned as the draw.
Samaravera and Paranavitana major injuries on the thing and chest respectively and was immediately hospitalized after the incident along with Ahsan Raza who was shot twice. Other players including Jayawardene, Sangakkara, Ajantha Mendis, Chaminda Vaas, Suranga Lakmal were suffered minor injuries.
Pakistan government blamed Lakshar-e-toiba for this incident because the attacks were same like Mumbai terror attacks but Pakistan press blamed al-Qaeda and Pakistani Islamist militants for the attacks. Investigations were made on full swing and they claimed nearly two dozen people were arrested but nothing productively happened.
Every day morning, it was Pakistan team bus will first leave the hotel followed by Sri Lankan team bus but during that particular day, it was the Sri Lankan bus that was first departed sparkled the involvement of government officials.
Counties from all around the world condemned the incident along with Pakistani and Sri Lankan counterparts.
It was clearly a security lapse happened during the time and Pakistan officials have to be blamed for this incident. One cannot rule the involvement of their own officials in the attack. It prevents other teams to tour Pakistan and they were forced to host their matches in UAE. Terrorism is not acceptable by any means, the truth must prevail and attackers should get the highest punishment.