At least six players in the Sri Lankan national cricket team were hurt when masked gunmen fired on the team bus in Lahore while being driven to the Gaddafi stadium on Tuesday.
Six Pakistani policemen and two civilians were killed when 12 masked gunmen on rickshaws attacked with guns, grenades and rockets.
The team bus came under fire as the players headed to the stadium for the third day of the second Test against Pakistan.
Thilan Samaraweera was one of those hurt along with Tharanga Paranavitana. Both are in hospital. Samaraweera has a bullet wound to his thigh. Paranavitana has a gash to his chest from shrapnel.
Those wounded with minor shrapnel injuries were skipper Mahela Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara, Chaminda Vaas and Ajantha Mendis.
Samaweera scored back-to-back double centuries in this series, 214 yesterday and 231 in the first Test in Karachi last week.
The assistant coach of the Sri Lankan cricket team, Paul Farbrace from England, was injured by shrapnel.
It was previously reported that Australian Trevor Bayliss sustained minor injuries, but this is not correct.
“The bus came under attack as we were driving to the stadium, the gunmen targeted the wheels of the bus first and then the bus,” Jayawardene told Cricinfo.
“We all dived to the floor to take cover. About five players have been injured and also Paul Farbrace, but most of the injuries appear to be minor at this stage and caused by debris.”
Australian umpires Simon Taufel and Steve Davis were both in the convoy that was fired on, but both were OK, an International Cricket Council spokeswoman said.
“They are both fine and we are in the process of getting both out of Pakistan and back home,” she said.
Match referee Chris Broad was also fine, however the spokeswoman would not comment on the condition of reserve umpire Ahsan Raza.
CNN reported that he was in a critical condition.
Former captain and star batsman Sanath Jayasuriya said he had spoken to the team and was thankful all players and staff were OK.
“I spoke to Kumar Sangakkara … [he said there were] little injuries but everyone is OK, under control, thank God,” he told CNN-IBN.
“I don’t think anyone got a bullet directly.
“I think they have never gone through anything like this before as a cricket team … it’s a terrible time.”
Jayasuriya said he had spoken to Sangakara’s wife, who is pregnant, and assured her everything was OK.
12 masked gunmen
Police chief Habibur Rehman said there were 12 masked gunmen and police battled against the assailants for about 25 minutes.
“They appeared to be well-trained terrorists. They came on rickshaws. They were armed with rockets, hand grenades, Kalashnikovs.
“Five policemen who were providing protection to the team sacrificed their lives,” he added.
The gunmen fled from the area of the attack, and one was arrested, CNN IBN said.
TV footage shows two unidentified gunman running across a yard, wearing sneakers and carrying backpacks.
A number of cars had numerous bullet holes through their windscreens.
Television footage of several gunmen creeping through the trees, crouching to aim their Kalashnikovs then running onto the next target were aired by Pakistan’s private channel Geo.
Broken glass littered the road next to a gun cartridge and an empty rocket-propelled grenade launcher. A police motorbike was shown crashed sideways into the road at the Liberty Chowk (roundabout) in Lahore.
Bullet holes ripped through the windscreen of another vehicle and a white car was shown smashed headlong into the roundabout as nervous security officers guarded the site.
Sri Lankan authorities said six players were believed to have been wounded though earlier reports said eight had been injured.
Punjab Governor Salmaan Tahseer said the gunmen were still on the run, but vowed they would be caught.
“They are on the run … we will get the bastards,” he told CNN-IBN.
“This kind of attack can happen anywhere … but the people of Lahore are not afraid of them.”
He said he had met all the Sri Lankan players, and they were safe.
Test called off
“This Test match has been officially called off,” PCB chairman Ijaz Butt told reporters in Lahore.
Pakistani authorities were providing helicopters to evacuate the Sri Lankan team members, who announced they would return home immediately.
“We are providing helicopters to evacuate the team from the ground to an air base from where they will leave,” Salman Taseer, the Governor of Punjab province of which Lahore is the capital, told reporters.
“We are going to catch these terrorists one way or the other,” he said.
Gavin Scowell, a director of sports channel Ten Sports, said he saw a number of Sri Lankan players with “flesh wounds” soon after the shooting.
Mr Scowell, who was in Pakistan to cover the tour, told CNN-IBN he heard gunfire and ran towards the Sri Lankan dressing room when he saw a number of players being carried in.
He believed about eight players had been hit, many with flesh wounds.
However there was “no panic”, and everyone was “very brave”, he said.
Mr Scowell said he saw spinner Ajatha Mendis with a wound to his head, but he was sitting up in a chair and offered a thumbs up.
Indian TV network Zee News reported two grenades were lobbed at the bus as it moved from Liberty Chowk to Polo Ground Road.
There was then “indiscriminate firing”, it said.
Sri Lanka is to immediately pull the team out of Pakistan.
History of security fears
The shooting came as the Sri Lankan army pushed its final offensive against ethnic Tamil Tiger rebels in the north of the country in a civil war that has claimed tens of thousands of lives.
Fears of attacks by Islamic militants linked to al-Qaeda have caused many teams to postpone or cancel cricket tours to Pakistan in recent years.
Australia earlier this month forced Pakistan to change the venue of a one-day series to the neutral venues of Dubai and Abu Dhabi when the two sides meet in April-May this year over security fears.
Australia, which also played Pakistan in three Tests at the neutral venues of Colombo and Dubai in 2002, have not toured Pakistan since 1998.
India also refused to send its team across the border amid heightened tensions in the wake of attacks on the Indian city of Mumbai, which New Delhi blamed on militants based in Pakistan.
Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh are due to jointly host the cricket World Cup in 2011.
Last month, Pakistan’s cricket chief vowed to improve security arrangements for the 10th edition of the four-yearly event and denied there was a risk associated with staging some of the games in the troubled country.
Last month, security concerns raised by other teams forced the ICC to move the 2009 Champions Trophy out of Pakistan.
The elite eight-nation competition was to be held in September-October this year but the ICC was to announce a new venue in April.
The event was originally scheduled for last year but was put off after South Africa pulled out of the event and Australia, England and New Zealand showed reluctance to tour because of fears about players’ safety.
In 2002, the New Zealand cricket team withdrew from a tour of Pakistan after militants exploded a bomb outside the team hotel in Karachi killing 11 French defence technicians.
AFP, Arjun Ramachandran, Jamie Pandaram