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Lahore suspect sketches released

Sketches of suspected attackers released by Lahore police
No arrests have been made yet

Police in Pakistan have released sketches of four men suspected of involvement in Tuesday's ambush of the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore.

Up to 14 gunmen took part in the attack which killed six policemen and a driver and injured eight tour members.

Pakistani television has meanwhile broadcast CCTV footage of the alleged attackers "nonchalantly escaping" by foot and by rickshaws and motorbikes.

Criticism has grown over apparent security lapses prior to the attack.

Separately, two Sri Lankan players wounded in the attack are recovering after surgery in Colombo, their doctors say.

There is no word on the identities or motives of the gunmen.

'Left helpless'

The drawings of the suspects show them to have short dark hair and dark eyes. They have been shown extensively on media across Pakistan on Thursday.

Pakistani TV has aired CCTV of suspected attackers in Lahore

"Police have prepared sketches of four suspects with the help of CCTV footage and they have been displayed as part of an effort to track down the perpetrators," Lahore city police chief Habib-ur Rehman told the AFP news agency.

Two of the suspects have moustaches, one is clean shaven and the fourth had a thin trace of hair on his upper lip.

Umpires, referees and officials caught up in the attack have been sharply critical of what they say were significant security failures before it happened.

Australian cricket umpire Steve Davis - one of the test match referees - said that the Sri Lankan team and its accompanying party were left "vulnerable and helpless" during the attack.

We were promised high-level security and in our hour of need that security vanished
Chris Broad, ICC match referee

His complaints were echoed by another referee, Chris Broad, who accused Pakistani security forces of "vanishing" during the attack.

The Chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board, Ejaz Butt, said that Mr Broad's allegation was "totally fabricated" and that he would lodge a formal protest with International Cricket Council (ICC) over it.

Disqualified

There have also been criticisms made by the PML-N party of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif that the central government's recent decision to implement a major shake-up of senior police personnel in Punjab province compromised security provided for the Sri Lankan team.

The PML-N - whose leaders Nawaz and Shahbaz Sharif were last week disqualified from elected office - say that they tipped off the authorities about a possible threat to the Sri Lankan team a month ago.

However the Commissioner of Lahore, Khusro Pervez, defended the police response to the attack, pointing out in an interview to DawnNews that officers died defending the Sri Lankan bus.

A shattered windscreen at the scene of the attack in Lahore (03/03/2009)

"The top priority of the police escorts with the Sri Lankan team was to protect them and transport them to a safe location, not to combat the gunmen," he said.

Mr Pervez did admit though that there were "certain security lapses which are very vivid and very clear".

"The gunmen were meant to be combated by backup police support, which didn't arrive," he said, "and the vehicles used for escorting the Sri Lankan convoy were not adequate."

The Governor of Punjab, Salman Taseer, said that the government has identified the attackers but would not give details to the press.

"We have found a lot of evidence. We have recovered the weapons. We have identified the people who did the operation," he said.

But he refused to divulge who the attackers were or which groups they belonged to - only that a high-level inquiry team comprising intelligence agencies and the police will submit a report on Friday.

Police say that they are investigating numerous leads and have arrested two more suspects from a Punjab village in connection with the attack.

The press has reported that the arrests resulted from the discovery of a mobile phone sim card which was found from the scene of the attack.

Police say that they have been conducting a combing operation in Makkah Colony, a poor locality in Lahore, where they suspect the attackers might have been living prior to the attack. There are also reports that they have tracked down an auto rickshaw driver who may have transported some of the attackers.

Separately, two Sri Lankan cricketers who were injured in the attack have undergone surgery in a Colombo hospital, doctors say.

Tharanga Paranavitana, who had a bullet lodged in his chest, and Thilan Samaraweera, who had shrapnel in his leg, will need around six weeks to completely recover, a senior Sri Lankan sports official told the BBC.

Impact on cricket

On Wednesday, Pakistani television broadcast what it says is footage of gunmen fleeing the scene of the attack.

The grainy and edited footage on Pakistan's GEO network shows a man arriving in what appears to be a side street on a motorbike.

Masked men opened fire on the bus, killing six policemen escorting the Sri Lankans and a driver.

Seven players and an assistant coach were wounded. The team later flew back to Sri Lanka.

The attacks are expected to have massive ramifications for the cricket world, with the ICC considering whether Pakistan can co-host World Cup matches in 2011.

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