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Lahore attack: Sleuths probe external links

The arrests into the terrorist attack on Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore indicate the investigators are trying to establish if the terrorists had any external links with the LTTE or militant groups in India, a Pakistani expert on Defence issues from the Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS) said.

Speaking to Daily News from Islamabad Director PIPS Amir Rana said the investigators were also trying to ascertain the gunmen had any local links since no one has so far claimed responsibility for this day light ambush which left 8 killed, seven Lankan cricketers injured and the whole world stunned. So far over 20 people have been arrested in connection with the surprise attack on the Sri Lankan team convoy on its way to Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore on their 3rd day of the 2nd Test match.

The well planned attack as it turned out to be was carried out by heavily armed gunmen carrying rocket launchers, grenades and and AK-47s.

Four of the arrested suspects is believed to have direct links with the terrorists.

The following is the full interview,

Q: Do You think the attackers had any external links possibly with the LTTE?

A: The Pakistani and Sri Lankan Foreign Ministers press conference indicate the investigations are going in this direction but right now the focus is to find some external link. Right now its difficult to pin point a specific group, but in Pakistan few groups have used the same tactics in the past.

Q: Can you name these groups?

A: Jandullah,Lakshkar-e-Jhangvi and Lakshkar-e-Taiba but Lakshkar-e-Taiba was never involved inside Pakistan.

Q: Do they have a background of any ties with the LTTE?

A: This is not yet established but the first two groups I have mentioned have links with Taleban.

The issue is why they targetted Sri Lankan team. Is it to create chaos? Did they have a deal with the LTTE? Hopefully this will clear within days.

Q: Has anyone claimed responsibility for the attack ?

A: No one has claimed responsibility. Security forces have made some arrests.

Q: What was the reaction from the Pakistanis in general and cricket fans in particular to this heinus attack?

A: Everyone was shocked. A Lot of people accuse government for the security lapse. Public view is that this was an attack on Pakistan and it was targeted to damage Sri Lanka Pakistan relations. Some moderate groups including religious and some state ministers blame the government for gaps in security arrangements. The story is still a hot topic for Pakistani media.

Q:Was there a lapse in security set up as accused in many quarters?

A: It was not sufficient. The provincial government was dismissed a few days back and there were major reshuffling in the police and the city administration. Opposition parties have called a demonstration against the government and a sit in plan is under way. The Government was engrossed with all these problems.

More security had to be deployed to control the situation. It created the gap for terrorists.

They should have deployed the Army or the commandos for the teams security instead of Special police force, because it was a big event in Pakistan and the Sri Lankan team took a big risk to come here.

Q:What do you think about the hostage theory. Your Interior Ministry Chief told Associated Press that going by the preparations, it is possible the attackers may have planned to hijack the bus?

A:It is not very clear if the terrorists had such a plan. The authorities must pay attention to uncover the truth without wasting time on conspiracy charges.

PIPS director however said the Pakistani newspapers reported an attempt by the Lashkar-e-Taibar militants to hijack the Sri Lankan Teams’ bus and bargain the release of their chief operational commander who is currently detained in Rawalpindi, facing trial for his alleged involvement in 26/11 Mumbai terror attack.

According to the news report the same group hijacked an Indian Passenger plane in 2000 compelling the then Indian government to release one of their leaders who was serving in an Indian jail on terrorism charges.

This has not been officially confirmed by the Pakistani authorities.



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