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Arrests made after Pakistani attack, but no sign of gunmen

PAKISTANI police have detained several suspects in the attack on Sri Lanka's cricket team in Pakistan, but said yesterday that they had made no progress in tracking the group of gunmen that wounded seven players, killed six policemen guarding them and a driver.

The attacks on Tuesday took place in the eastern city of Lahore.

Senior police official Haji Habibur Rehman said police raided locations in Lahore and surrounding districts and arrested "some suspects."

He gave no details of their alleged roles, or the precise number detained, but said that some were picked up at a Lahore hostel, where bloodstained clothes were also found.

He confirmed the arrests to The Associated Press, adding that "so far we have not made any headway toward the perpetrators."

In the commando-style assault, up to 14 heavily armed and well-trained gunmen sprayed the Sri Lankan bus with bullets as it traveled to a match against Pakistan. Rockets and grenades were also used in the assault.

The bus cleared the ambush and reached the safety of the stadium.

"Our guys were getting hurt and screaming, but we couldn't help each other," Sri Lanka Captain Mahela Jayawardene said when the team arrived home in Colombo early yesterday.

"None of us thought that we would come alive out of the situation," Jayawardene added.

Veteran Sri Lanka spinner Muttiah Muralitharan spoke of the chaos on the bus during the attack: "All the while bullets were being sprayed at our bus, people around me were shouting," he said. "I am glad to be back."

Working in pairs, the attackers carried walkie-talkies and backpacks stuffed with water, dried fruit and other high-energy food - a sign that they anticipated a protracted siege and may have been planning to take the players hostage, an official said.

None of the gunmen were killed, and all apparently escaped into the city after a 15-minute gun battle with the convoy's security detail.

Authorities have not speculated on the identities of the attackers, but Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari said that the assault showed "once again the evil we are confronting" in an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal.

Pakistan's Punjab provincial government took out advertisements in newspapers yesterday offering a US$125,000 reward.


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