Pakistan says three accused of 2009 Sri Lanka cricket team attack killed

Sri Lanka cricket team attack

Pakistani police said on Sunday that three Islamists suspected of being behind an attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in the city of Lahore in 2009 had been killed during a shootout.

The three men, along with a fourth alleged militant who was also killed, were in police custody travelling on the edge of Lahore late on Saturday when a group of seven or eight gunmen attacked their convoy, the police said.

Police said they returned fire but the four men in their custody were killed in the gunfight. Authorities are hunting for the attackers who fled the scene, the Punjab counter-terrorism department said in a statement.

The Sri Lankan cricket team was travelling by bus when at least 10 gunmen fired at them in March 2009 with rifles, grenades and rockets, wounding six players and a British coach and killing eight Pakistanis.

Most international cricket tours to Pakistan were subsequently cancelled and the country was forced to play all its “home” games in the United Arab Emirates.

Pakistan is fighting a number of Islamist militant groups who have staged scores of attacks against the state, civilians and religious minorities over the last decade, although Lahore remains relatively safer than other parts of the country.

The government in Islamabad says it is clamping down on militants and the army has carried out large military operations along the volatile border with Afghanistan to flush out militants, but attacks still occur.