06 March 2009

Under-equipped Pakistani police guarding Sri-Lankan team killed

On March 3, 2009, history seemed to repeat itself when unknown armed terrorists nearly hijacked a bus carrying a bus full of Sri Lankan cricketers, the first such attack on a national spoirts team since the 1972 Munich crisis where all 11 Israelis were killed.

While surprisingly none of the cricketers were killed (and only sustained minor-medium) injuries, what's most astounding is the casualties on the police side. Six of the elite forces guarding the tour were killed. As you can see in the video below aired by CNN, some of the officers were not armed !

First of, it's understandable when the earliest responding officers to an incident have lesser firepower, like the Mumbai attacks when many of the police constables at various sites only had handguns, against AKs and automatic weapons. It's not possible for every police officer to be armed with an assault rifle. But ballistic vests and automatic firearms are always supplied when escorting V.I.Ps. And it's superfluous to say that escort missions such as the one of the police team in Lahore nessicates the need for automatic weapons. When the Indian team pulled out of Lahore after the Mumbai Attacks, now known as 26/11, to entice the Sri-Lankan team to tour Pakistan, they were reportedly offered "presidential-style security." And what kind presidential security is that when the officers don't even have guns ?

The large interiors of the bus meant the cricketers could take cover by going prone.

The under-equipped police force retaliated with the little firepower they had (with fatal results) while the bus carrying the cricketers zoomed onto to the safety of the nearby Gaddafi Stadium. Not only did the militants accoutered with RPGs and AK-74s managed to make a clean and casual escape, not even one of them was killed. My views were reflected in the comments of General Musharaf, who questioned the training of the elite force and said "they should have killed the terrorists in less than 3 seconds."

The Sri-Lankan cricketers were really lucky though, to have made it out alive. The large bus provided adequate cover for them and a certain level of their luck was due to support from "up" was as even though a grenade was thrown under the bus, it failed to explode until the bus had driven over it.

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