Sri Lankan cricketers recall 'agony' of 2009 terror attacks on bus in Lahore

Last Updated: Sun, Dec 09, 2012 06:42 hrs

A few Sri Lankan cricketers have recalled the agony and fear they experienced during 2009 terror attacks on their cricket team in Lahore.

The Sri Lankan cricket team attack occurred on March 3, 2009, when a bus carrying Sri Lankan cricketers, part of a larger convoy, was fired upon by 12 gunmen, near the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore, Pakistan, and 6 members of the Sri Lanka national cricket team were injured.

Of the 16-man Sri Lankan team that arrived in Australia that night, six were on the bus that day: current skipper Mahela Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara, Samaraweera, Tharanga Paranavitana, Prasanna Jayawardene and Tillakaratne Dilshan, reports.

Samaraweera, whose left thigh had been shredded by a terrorist's bullet, was almost feared dead. However, he was rescued after a two-hour operation.

To this day, keeps the bullet as a 'memento'. He now celebrates a century with a gun-toting celebration, in a sense a perverse celebration of life and a symbol that terrorists could not defeat Sri Lanka's cricketers.

"The first five days in the hospital were terrible. I couldn't go to the toilet, I couldn't walk, I couldn't even sleep as I couldn't change my body position," Samaraweera recalls.

"I was lying on the floor, in front of Sangakkara, when I got hit. My leg was bleeding but survival instincts didn't allow me to panic. Today I decide not to think about the past and to try and be positive," he added.

Muralitharan says the mayhem seemed to last hours but it was closer to three minutes.

"You don't think you will survive that. It was terrible. Honestly, I never want to think about it ever again. It was a terrible incident to happen to anyone. To hear terrorists firing at you ... the bullets ... screaming ... it went on for a few minutes. I thought there was no escape," says Muralitharan, recalling the attack.

In all, 20 were injured, as terrorists set-off explosives and sprayed the team bus with bullets. Six Pakistani policemen and two civilians were also killed in the attack.

These were the first attacks on a national sports team since the Munich massacre of Israeli athletes by Palestinian militants in 1972. (ANI)

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