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Page last updated at 15:04 GMT, Wednesday, 17 June 2009 16:04 UK

'Cricket attacker' held in Lahore

Police with the arrested suspect
Police say that the alleged attacker has made a full confession

Police in Pakistan have arrested one of seven men suspected of being behind the attack on Sri Lanka's cricket team in Lahore in March, officials say.

"We have broken up a Punjabi Taliban network and we have arrested an attacker who shot dead a policeman," Lahore police chief Pervez Rathor said.

Seven Pakistanis - six police guards and the driver of a Sri Lankan team bus - were killed in the attack.

Gunmen ambushed the bus as it drove to a cricket stadium for a match.

Black mask

Mr Rathor said that the suspect was a member of the banned militant Tehreek-e-Taliban Punjab organisation.

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

He identified the suspect as Zubair, also known by his alias Nek Mohammad, who appeared at the televised press conference in Pakistan's cultural hub Lahore with his face completely covered in a black mask.

"We came to Lahore two days before the attack," Zubair shouted through his mask, adding that they had stayed in a small house on the outskirts of Lahore.

Mr Rathor said that the mastermind of the attack was a man named Farooq.

He and the other attackers are all believed to have fled to the tribal region of Waziristan on the border with Afghanistan.

"The plan was actually to kidnap the Sri Lankan team," Mr Rathor said.

The BBC's Syed Shoaib Hasan in Islamabad says that this is the first time that the 'Punjabi Taliban' has been named in a major militant attack in Pakistan.

Our correspondent says that until now, the term was used to describe members of banned jihadi groups who have taken refuge in Pakistan's tribal areas.

Massive ramifications

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

There was strong criticism at the time of apparent security lapses before the attack. There was no word on the identities or motives of the gunmen.

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

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 had big ramifications for the cricket world, casting doubt on whether it is safe for Pakistan to co-host World Cup matches in 2011.



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