BREAKING NEWS : Firing in Lahore, Sri Lanka cricket team members injured

LAHORE (Pakistan)  An official says eight members of Sri Lanka’s national cricket team have been wounded after (twelve well trained) gunmen opened fire on their vehicle in Lahore.

Two gunmen near a vehicle, background, in Lahore, Pakistan in this image taken from a television.

Pakistan Cricket Board security official Nadeem Iqbal says the team members were injured near the Gaddafi stadium where they were due to arrive to play in the second test against Pakistan.

Five policemen have also been killed as the police van escorting Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore was fired upon, confirms the police chief in Lahore. (and 25 policemen also wounded – Oui)

The Test match between Sri Lanka and Pakistan stands cancelled.  

This is a devastating blow to Pakistan’s standing as a secure country where sportsmen can still tour the large cities. Pakistan will be further isolated for years to come and slides further down the path of a rogue nation.

Cross-posted from my diary — Political Unrest in Pakistan, Al Qaeda Gains Support

Update [2009-03-03 00:42:34 PST by Oui]:

6 dead in attack on Sri Lankan cricketers

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) — At least six security personnel were killed and up to eight members of Sri Lanka’s cricket team hurt in an attack on the team’s bus by gunmen in Lahore, Pakistan. Police said at least 12 gunmen opened fire on the convoy. Pakistani Information Minister Sherry Rahman told CNN that the attackers were still at large.

Up to eight players, one coach and 10 security staff were reported hurt in the attack, although most injuries were said to be minor. Batsmen Tharanga Paranavitana and Thilan Samaraweera suffered gunshot wounds, according to the Sri Lankan Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Sri Lankan cricketers wounded in Pakistan attack

LAHORE, Pakistan – A dozen men attacked Sri Lanka’s cricket team with rifles, grenades and rocket launchers ahead of a match in Pakistan, wounding several players and killing six police officers and civilian in a brazen attack on South Asia’s most beloved sport.

The assailants ambushed the convoy carrying the squad and match officials at a traffic circle close to the main sports stadium in the eastern city of Lahore, triggering a 15-minute gunbattle with police guarding the vehicles.

None of the attackers were killed or captured at the scene, city police chief Haji Habibur Rehman said. Authorities did not speculate on the identities of the attackers or their motives.

The injuries to the members of the Sri Lankan squad — which included its coach, an Australian — were not believed to be life-threatening, officials said.

Three hours after the attack, at least eight players and team officials left the Gadaffi stadium in Lahore on a Pakistani army helicopter that took off from the pitch. It was not immediately clear where the chopper was heading.

A Pakistani bomb disposable squad member diffuses an explosive at the shooting site in Lahore, Pakistan.

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa condemned the attack and ordered his foreign minister to immediately travel to Pakistan to help assist in the team’s evacuation and ensure they are safe.

TV footage showed gunmen with backpacks — apparently the attackers — firing at the convoy as they retreated from the scene, with several damaged vehicles and a lone, unexploded grenade lying on the ground.

"But I will not let myself be reduced to silence."