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Security lapses responsible for Lahore attack: Report

By M Zulqernain in Lahore
April 25, 2009 12:47 IST
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A judicial tribunal that probed the terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore has concluded that it was caused by 'laxity' among police officers guarding the visiting players.

The report of the tribunal, headed by Justice Shabbar Raza Rizvi of the Lahore High Court, was submitted to the government on Friday. It said 'laxity' on the part of police officers providing security to the team was the 'prime cause' for their failure to thwart the attack, official sources said.

Eight persons were killed and over 20 others, including several Sri Lankan players, injured when over a dozen terrorists ambushed the team's motorcade at the busy Liberty traffic roundabout near a Lahore stadium on the third day of the second Test on March 3.

The tribunal's report said police officers had not manned the Sri Lankan team's route to the stadium for the first two days of the Test, sources in the Punjab provincial government said.

Not even a single policeman was deployed on the roofs of buildings near the Liberty roundabout and there was no cordon either. Officers on duty also did not bother to check the route for three consecutive days, the sources said.

The tribunal observed that the terrorists were on the watch and such a loophole gave them an 'easy opportunity' to carry out the attack, the sources said. The report, according to sources, also focused on a 'glaring fact' that was missing from the joint probe into the attack by the police and the CID. It said when the motorcade was attacked, two police vans had escaped towards Hafeez Centre and Hussain Chowk.

"I am at a loss to understand as to why they did not get back and try to engage the terrorists as that might have led to their arrest or killing. This is embarrassing for everyone," Justice Rizvi was quoted by the sources as saying in the report.

The tribunal suggested that the police's Elite Force should be trained on modern lines and be well-equipped. Besides, there should be better coordination between law enforcement agencies while protecting foreign teams and personalities, it said.

The sources said the tribunal was primarily set up to 'fix responsibility' for lapses that led to the attack and did not stress on initiating action against those responsible for the lapses.

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M Zulqernain in Lahore