News24

Murali questions security

2009-03-05 06:50

Adelaide - Sri Lankan spin bowler Muttiah Muralitharan thinks there's a chance the terrorists who ambushed his team's bus in a deadly attack in Lahore were working on inside information.

Muralitharan, the most prolific wicket taker in cricket, was travelling on the bus en route to the Gaddafi Stadium on Tuesday when it was attacked by a dozen or more heavily armed gunmen.

He was not among the seven Sri Lankan players injured. Six police officers and the driver of a van carrying match officials were killed.

With security supposed to be extra tight, both teams and the match officials had been travelling together for the opening two days of the match. Sri Lanka left five minutes before Younis Khan's Pakistani squad on the morning of the third day.

"We left at 08:30. Younis Khan has said they're going at 08:35," Muralitharan told Radio 5AA in Adelaide, Australia, after arriving home in Sri Lanka from Pakistan the day after the attack. "So there is two escorts: we got one escort, and they had one. Normally (when) all the buses go, about four or five escorts go, so they said, divide it into two.

"Maybe they (the attackers) got well known information ... for right time."

ICC match referee Chris Broad of England, Australian on-field umpires Simon Taufel and Steve Davis, and reserve umpire Ahsan Raza of Pakistan were in a van following the Sri Lankan team bus. Raza was seriously wounded by a bullet when the van was stranded after the driver was killed.

Broad has said the match officials were like "sitting ducks" for the terrorists and suggested there was some kind of conspiracy involved in the attack, but said he had no details or proof.

Taufel accused the security of abandoning the van when the team bus was able to keep going to the stadium.

Muralitharan said he'd played at first-class level for 18 years in Sri Lanka while it was gripped by civil war, yet had never previously felt like a target.

He said he'd have to rethink his travelling schedule in the wake of the attack, and wants to talk to organisers of the upcoming Twenty20 Indian Premier League about security before he commits to the tournament starting next month.

"There's terrorist attacks everywhere. Nowhere will be safe anymore. Last time sports people were attacked was at Munich in 1972," said Muralitharan, referring to the 11 members of the Israeli team killed at the '72 Olympics.

"It is an eye-opener for everyone. Security, everywhere you play, has to be tightened. We travel in groups of 23 or 25 - it is an easy target," he said. "I never in my dreams thought we would be attacked."

AP