Arrests made over Lahore attack

Pakistani police hunt suspects after Tuesday's deadly attack on Sri Lankan cricket team.

    Officials are searching for 12 men said to be involved in Tuesday's deadly attack in Lahore [Reuters]

    No claims yet

    No one has so far claimed responsibility for the attack.

    "Overnight the security forces in the province of Punjab arrested up to a hundred people," Al Jazeera's Kamal Hyder, reporting from Lahore, said on Wednesday. 

    In depth

     Video: Lahore shooting
     Sri Lanka players recount ordeal
     Lahore attack stokes tensions
     Bus driver hailed as hero
     Attack rocks cricket world
     Witness account
     Lahoris lament 'shameful' attack
    Timeline of attacks

    "The governor [Salman Taseer] himself has hinted that the security lapse in the province of Punjab allowed these attackers to penetrate into the heart of the city and strike with impunity," he said.

    Haji Habibur Rehman, Lahore's police chief, indicated in an interview with Pakistan's Geo news channel that none of the 12 suspected attackers were among those detained.

    Following the attack, a local police constable has resigned in protest against what he says is a lack of government support.

    "If the government supports us, then we can fight the terrorists. If high officials do not support us, how can we fight them?" Ather Abbas said.

    "We will also be killed like our colleagues this morning."

    'Existential battle'

    Asif Ali Zardari, the Pakistan president, said "failure is not an option" in Pakistan's battle against terrorism, in an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday.

    "This is an existential battle. If we lose, so too will the  world," he said.

    Tuesday's attack "shows once again the evil we are confronting", Zardari said.

    Rehman Malik, the head of the interior ministry, declared the country to be "in a state of war", but told Pakistanis: "Be patient, we will flush all these terrorists out of the country."

    He did not rule the role of a "foreign hand" in the attack.

    The Sri Lankan government has condemned the assault as "cowardly" and said it was sending its foreign minister to Pakistan.

    In television footage aired on Tuesday, the apparent attackers could be seen firing at the bus carrying the Sri Lankan team as they retreated from the scene of the attack in Lahore.

    Grenades, plastic explosives and two unexploded car bombs belonging to the attackers were recovered from the area, police said.

    "The high quantity of weapons recovered from the site of the attack suggest the terrorists were well-prepared and organised," Habib Rehman, the Lahore police chief, said.

    Players return

    Seven Sri Lankan players and an assistant coach were among the 19 wounded in the attack on Tuesday.

    Two members of the Sri Lankan team, Thilan Samaraweera and Tharanga Paranavitana, were sent to hospital but later released.

    They have since arrived back in the Sri Lankan capital, Colombo, to an emotional welcome from relatives.

    Sri Lanka's cricketers were invited to play in Pakistan after India pulled out of a scheduled test match over security concerns.

    New Zealand on Wednesday indicated it would call off its November tour of Pakistan, and the International Cricket Council raised doubts  whether the country could still co-host the 2011 World Cup.
    "I don't think any international team will be going to Pakistan in the foreseeable future," Justin Vaughan, chief executive of New Zealand, said.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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