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Rudd denounces 'doubly atrocious' Lahore attack

Posted March 4, 2009 15:00:00
Updated March 4, 2009 17:30:00

A policemen inspects a police car covered in blood after the attack.

A policemen inspects a police car covered in blood after the attack. (AFP: Arif Ali )

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has condemned yesterday's "shameful and cowardly" attack on a convoy carrying Sri Lanka's cricket team in the Pakistani city of Lahore.

Seven Pakistanis died and nine people, including seven players, were injured when gunmen ambushed the convoy as it was travelling to a Test match at the city's Gaddafi stadium.

Earlier today Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said the attack proved that terrorism now posed an "existentialist" threat to Pakistan.

Mr Rudd said the attack was a reminder of the continuing threat posed by terrorists.

"It deserves universal condemnation, it gets condemnation from Australia," he said.

"Cricket occupies a special place in the hearts of sports lovers and Australians, but also sports lovers across the world.

"This therefore is a doubly atrocious act given that it has been perpetrated against those who give us, as Australians, and sports lovers across the world, such pleasure in watching the game.

"It reminds us again of the absolute requirement to maintain vigilance in our counter terrorism measures both in Australia and around the world."

Other world leaders have also condemned the deadly attack.

During a press conference with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, US President Barack Obama spoke broadly about the fight against terrorism in both Pakistan and Afghanistan.

"Obviously we're deeply concerned, but let me just make a general statement," he said.

"Both Great Britain and the United States share a deep interest in ensuring that neither Afghanistan nor Pakistan are safe havens for terrorist activity.

"The truth is that the situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated. The safe havens for Al Qaeda remain in the frontier regions of Pakistan."

In Washington, US State Department spokesman Gordon Duguid was more forthcoming about America's outrage.

"We condemn this vicious attack on innocent civilians but also on the positive relations that Pakistan and Sri Lanka are trying to enjoy," he said.

"This is not just an attack on individuals. This is an attack on peaceful, normal relations."

There has been no claim of responsibility but some Sri Lankan officials fear a possible link with the military offensive against ethnic Tamil rebels in the island's north.

Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Gilani described his country's relations with Sri Lanka as "very good", but he has conceded Pakistan's image has suffered.

"Our relations with Sri Lanka are very good. They came here on our invitation and their protection was our responsibility," he said.

"I feel that this incident has humiliated the country and the whole nation. This has tarnished the prestige of Pakistan."

'State of war'

The head of Pakistan's Interior Ministry, Rehman Malik said his country was 'in a state of war' while also suggesting the masked gunmen may have come from outside Pakistan.

"The democracy of the country is being undermined," he said.

"Pakistan is under ... aggression and the father has been targeted with the view to bring bad name to the country and I do not overrule foreign handling."

Pakistani security analyst and retired army Lieutenant-General Talat Masood says the attack shows a frightening shift.

"I think it is shocking in a way, especially against cricket," he said.

"Pakistan is one of those countries which loves cricket so it is a great shock not only to those people who are there in Lahore but also to the entire country and, I'm certain, the entire international community.

"Sports is the one area where we thought that the militants should not be operating and it appears that they are [not] sparing any area."

Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith says the assumption that sport is out of bounds from terrorism no longer applies.

"This makes the point, irrespective of what position you occupy, irrespective of what pursuit you follow, you are not immune from terrorist activity and that is why Australia and international community need to stare down the terrorist threat that we see in this region," he said.

"I made the point when I returned from Pakistan that the very clear impression I was left with ... [was] that Pakistan now understood that what it was dealing with was not just a problem associated with the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, which had implications for Afghanistan, but this was very much an existentialist threat to Pakistan itself."

Tags: government-and-politics, federal-government, sport, cricket, terrorism, rudd-kevin, australia, pakistan

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Comments (35)

Comments for this story are closed. No new comments can be added. If you would like to have your say on this issue, you can do so via the Emails section of our Opinion pages.

  • Spooky:

    04 Mar 2009 5:20:45pm

    Probably the Tigers of Tamil.

    Trying to get one last spiteful strike in on Sri Lanka, and pay Pakistan back for supporting the enemy. Plus it makes Pakistan look bad, at a time when it is already an embarassment.

    At the moment, the Tigers are at their most dangerous. They have almost lost the last of their territory, and their tactics have turned most of their old allies away.

    Of course, if this was not the Tamils, then the problem might be a lot worse. But it is hard to see what militant islamists would have to gain from this.

    Agree (0) Alert moderator

      • Mark:

        04 Mar 2009 6:00:52pm

        Despite the saying "it's never the most likely suspect", it's well known that in almost all crimes, it is. It's hard to look beyond Islamic terrorists in this case. The tactics and weapons are almost identical to the attack in Mumbai. Also, when you apply any critical thinking to the matter, how could it be the Tamil Tigers? They're barely surviving in their own land. They don't have the knowledge or resources to be able to smuggle a group of people and weapons into Pakistan to pull this off.

        If you look back on almost all the atrocities Islamic terrorists have committed, it's hard to see what they could gain from any of them, which ultimately shows them for what they are - cold blooded killers.

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          • Spooky:

            04 Mar 2009 6:38:13pm

            It would just take a couple of Tamils to enter the country a few weeks ago, or even days ago.

            The guns and RPG could easily have come with them by boat, or been aquired after entry into the country.

            I agree that the islamic terrorists could have easily pulled it off, but why? They have no beef with Sri Lanka. There are other targets which would have been more effective, like a western hotel, or a government building.

            And the tactics are different. This was little more then an ambush and retreat. It seems far too "blatent". Plus the mumbai attack was directed against non-muslims, this attack was killing random civilians.

            There are too many questions. It will be interesting to see how the investigation turns out.

            Agree (0) Alert moderator

              • Martyn:

                04 Mar 2009 7:14:05pm

                It would be nice to think it was the LTTE, but I'm regretfully siding with Mark.

                If it is proven to be Islamic militants then will this damage their cause in Pakistan? Cricket's popular.

                Agree (0) Alert moderator

      • Dave:

        04 Mar 2009 7:00:44pm

        I agree with Spooky that this was quite possibly a Tamil Tiger attack. The Tigers have immense support throughout the world (their fundraising arm in the UK was only recently shut down) and have bases in India as well as Sri Lanka. To infiltrate Pakistan would not have been so difficult considering the current security situation there. As noted elsewhere on this site, a terrorism expert suggests that the attack may have in fact been an attempted kidnapping. It may have been that the Tigers (or a sympathetic group) were trying to kidnap one or more cricketers in order to force negotiations with the Sri Lankan government/military. The fact that most nations these days do not negotiate with terrorists would not have been overlooked by the Tigers, but capturing one or more high level personalities would be extremely upsetting in any country, particularly if they were facing death. That Sri Lanka's cricket team are revered like gods in their own country would have been the fulcrum point for their kidnapping and would have pushed the Sri Lanka government into crisis. Thank God the attempt failed.

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  • Felix:

    04 Mar 2009 5:28:11pm

    Smith says that "the assumption that sport is out of bounds from terrorism no longer applies".

    Short memory? Remember Munich Olympics in 1972?

    Agree (0) Alert moderator

      • Alfred:

        04 Mar 2009 5:45:32pm

        Was he still a teenager then?

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      • Ford:

        04 Mar 2009 7:36:35pm

        That only resulted in the deaths of a few Jews though, murdering a few Jews is hardly as atrocious an act as injuring a few cricket players...this is Australia after all...see, we *like* cricketers.

        Agree (1) Alert moderator

  • Robert:

    04 Mar 2009 5:31:16pm

    C'mon, hands up. It's confession time...

    Who sold these terrorists their weapons?

    The US? Israel? France? Britain, China, Russia, Germany? Maybe some Aussie entrepreneur?

    I would like the news to focus on the REAL terrorists here - the company and/or country that sells these weapons.

    How about we set up a Terrorist Victims Fund. For every weapon recovered from a terrorist, we find out the company that made it and fine them (indirect liability tort) a million dollars; proceeds to go to the families of the victims. Wouldn't that change the face of terrorism once and for all? But that assumes the governments are really serious about combating terrorism; that remains to be seen. (and it does step on the toes of free-market capitalism).

    Agree (0) Alert moderator

      • SayWat:

        04 Mar 2009 5:43:33pm

        It has to be the Americans.

        They produce cheap RPGs and Kalashnikovs, don't they?

        Agree (0) Alert moderator

          • Mark:

            04 Mar 2009 5:54:49pm

            Kalashnikov - have a think about it...does that sound American to you???

            Agree (0) Alert moderator

              • SayWat:

                04 Mar 2009 5:59:42pm

                Sorry, I had the irony button off.

                My mistake.

                Agree (0) Alert moderator

              • Spy vs Spy:

                04 Mar 2009 6:13:32pm

                Ah, but in this murky world of war and espionage, the Russians DO make RPGs so the Yanks get the blame; and the Americans DO make Kalishnakovs in order to blame the Russkies.

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              • Oscar:

                04 Mar 2009 7:02:40pm

                "Kalashnikov - have a think about it...does that sound American to you???"

                Sure it does! Which country makes Sikorsky helicopters?

                :-)

                Agree (0) Alert moderator

              • Anon.:

                04 Mar 2009 8:20:14pm

                I think he was being sarcastic.

                Agree (0) Alert moderator

      • San:

        04 Mar 2009 5:44:16pm

        It is so unfortunate that this happened.

        Pakistan is worse than Iran in the sense it has nuclear weapons and it had recently made a truce with Taliban in the north west. No country seem to have reacted to this development.

        This country has time and again proved that it is not worthy of world's trust.

        Unless the the powers that be do some thing drastic we could see far worse situations developing in this country.

        Unfortunately the general public of this country are equally victims of the actions of a minority, government and the army.

        Agree (0) Alert moderator

      • Dignity:

        04 Mar 2009 6:20:30pm

        Well said. You hit the nail on the head.

        THE PROBLEM IN THIS WORLD IS THEY NEVER LOOK AT THE ROOT CAUSE.

        The root cause is the arms manufactures such as US, UK, Norway, Australia etc. These are hypocrites who talk peace but they are the real killers.

        They make billions out of this blood money,

        It is time to address this issue now.

        Agree (0) Alert moderator

          • Martyn:

            04 Mar 2009 7:09:28pm

            Those large firms sell to *comparatively stable nation states*, not stateless rabbles. They're interested in the billion-dollar sales. Still don't know where this idea comes from.

            Which isn't to say a big high-tech arms industry is a good thing.

            Agree (0) Alert moderator

      • Martyn:

        04 Mar 2009 7:08:22pm

        Robert, you and the other 'it's all the arms-makers fault' posters are missing a crucial point or two. Big arms makers have little interest in selling to ragtag bands of militants.

        In fact, AK-47s and a range of other weapons are turned out by the thousand in hundreds of small workshops scattered throughout Afghanistan, Pakistan and the former Soviet states.

        When "the company that made it" is a 20-foot-square workshop owned by the terrorist's own uncle, how are you going to get any money from it?

        You've watched Iron Man one too many times, possibly.

        Agree (0) Alert moderator

          • Robert:

            04 Mar 2009 7:45:52pm

            Martyn, it must help you sleep at night to be so wilfully naive.

            Of course, arms manufacturers ONLY sell to big nations....

            In the same way that bottle shops only sell vodka to people "of age" with proof. It is not their concern that the 30 year old who paid for the bottle got the money from the 14 year old outside the shop who eventually gets the vodka.

            Just look the other way, and pretend. There are no terrorists really - just a dream.

            Agree (0) Alert moderator

  • Founder:

    04 Mar 2009 5:44:11pm

    This morning I heard the Australian Cricket captain say he thought sport was "above all this".

    What world does he live in?

    Sport is what children do for fun, but somehow when adults do it, its serious business.

    Agree (0) Alert moderator

      • Root:

        04 Mar 2009 7:44:29pm

        Isn't sport merely a representation of war anyway.....

        Two sides, one objective, one winner, one loser.

        Seems to me whoever undertook this action has declared war upon the entire cricket loving planet!

        Agree (0) Alert moderator

  • gaz:

    04 Mar 2009 6:29:17pm

    I keep on repeating myself that ideology cannot be defeated by force of arms. Using force only creates an ever increasing number of brainwashed "martyrs".

    The only way to counter Islamic extremists is to utterly discredit their ideology, proving that their constant calls to 'jihad', cold blooded murder of innocent people and suicide bombings are contrary to what the Quaran proclaims and what Islam is all about - or so we are assured by 'moderate Muslims'.

    And this could start with a constant and PUBLIC condemnation by all 'moderate' Muslims.

    Agree (0) Alert moderator

      • Root:

        04 Mar 2009 7:45:14pm

        Better still we could simply dismantle all RELIGIONS and get back to reality.....

        Agree (0) Alert moderator

  • JST:

    04 Mar 2009 6:52:22pm

    What a dark day for cricket lovers the word over, but particularly the majority of Pakistanis who love the game. It will be a long time before they get to see international cricket in their country. One outcome might be the terrorists will find it more difficult to find safe havens.

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  • Paul:

    04 Mar 2009 7:51:46pm

    Kevin Rudd's idea of "doubly atrocious act " is a load of silly nonsense !!

    Where was the condemnation when Israel bombed Gaza and slaughtered innocent civilians ?

    Perhaps it was because they don't play cricket !

    Such hypocritical rhetoric...oh please.

    Agree (0) Alert moderator

      • Anon.:

        04 Mar 2009 8:32:49pm

        There was little public condemnation when wars happened in Tamil, Kurdistan, Swat, or Georgia.

        These conflicts involved many civilian deaths, and countries asserting the right to self defence against the military action of a hostile neighbour.

        But there was tons of protests for Gaza.

        THAT is the true hypocrisy.

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          • Paul:

            04 Mar 2009 8:52:13pm

            The "offensive" on Gaza is not one than could be described as Self Defence - I'm sorry but that is simplistic.

            However, I agree that many conflicts go without the condemnation they deserve...but that wasn't my point.

            Please refer to "pathetic" contribution for a fresh perspective.


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              • Anon.:

                04 Mar 2009 9:11:17pm

                And your preferred response would be?

                Bearing in mind that the borders were sealed to stop weapon smuggling, kidnappings and suicide bombs?

                As for "pathetic" contribution? I would hardly call it a fresh perspective. Like yours, it tends to be repeated regularly, but focuses more on ideology and less on facts.

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  • bob:

    04 Mar 2009 8:11:57pm

    sorry kev - another FAIL for you. It is not "doubly atrocious" its tripley(?) atrocious.

    The third leg??? - religion! Of course "godbot kev" would never admit it, but yet again the pathetic adherance to religous dogma kills.

    Agree (0) Alert moderator

  • pathetic:

    04 Mar 2009 8:33:30pm

    Terror.. lets not forget the US is bombing people in Pakistan as well, more cowardly too, using long distance remote control drones, killing indiscriminately.

    Terror is in the eye of the beholder, a lot of arabs know by now that the US and Israel caused more terror under the disguise of "bringing freedom and democracy" than the terror attacks on the west ever managed to cause.

    Who gains from this? How come the media are all over the place already pointing fingers but as usual the facts will be muddled?

    Agree (0) Alert moderator

      • Paul:

        04 Mar 2009 8:46:28pm

        Hear Hear !!!

        "Anon." (see above) You should take note of this valuable contribution.

        Agree (0) Alert moderator

          • Anon.:

            04 Mar 2009 9:26:48pm

            I wish I could agree with you.

            Then I could simply lie back and bask in the warm glow of rhetoric, agitprop and slogans.

            I could simply believe that the Iraq war was illegal, rather then consider the terms of UN resolution 1441.

            I could simply assume that Gaza represents a war crime, rather then actually research the laws of war.

            I could simply assume my anti-war view is correct and held by everyone else, and thus be freed from the need to actually prove anything to others.

            But then I would be insulting my own intelligence. I choose to be informed.

            Agree (0) Alert moderator

  • brian:

    04 Mar 2009 8:39:31pm

    To put it very simply....religion and bigotry continue unabated to be the curse of the planet....Life as an aetheist is simple....I have no wish to harm anyone ...especially for a baseless belief.........Oh for a PM with similiar ideals !!

    Agree (0) Alert moderator

  • Matt:

    04 Mar 2009 9:16:04pm

    The US are still way in the lead for "shameful and cowardly" attacks ending in the deaths of innocent Pakistanis.
    There is nothing brave about guiding unmanned drones over villages and blowing up homes with people inside.
    As repugnant as this attack has been, it still pales in comparison to the slaughter of Pakistani villagers by US raids in the north.
    I know that I'd much rather someone had the courage to attack me with a gun in his hand rather than drop a bomb on my family from a great height.
    As usual though 100 poor villagers killed are much less important than injured high profile cricketers.

    Agree (0) Alert moderator

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