Pakistan 'can't rule out' foreign hand in cricket attack | world | Hindustan Times
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Pakistan 'can't rule out' foreign hand in cricket attack

world Updated: Mar 06, 2009 18:59 IST
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Pakistan's interior ministry chief said Friday he could not rule out foreign involvement in the Sri Lankan cricket attack, as press speculation mounted that home-grown militants were to blame.

Six Pakistani police and two civilians were killed on Tuesday when gunmen ambushed the team en route to a Test match in the eastern city of Lahore. Seven Sri Lankan cricketers and a coach were among 19 people wounded.

"I cannot rule out (involvement of a) foreign hand in the incident," Rehman Malik told reporters in Lahore.

He was asked if Sri Lanka's Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam could be linked to the attacks -- which have triggered serious international concern about Pakistan's ability to combat Taliban and Al-Qaeda-linked militants.

"We are keeping this aspect in mind," said Malik.

Local newspapers on Friday suggested that preliminary investigations pointed to the involvement of home-grown militant outfits, including Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), which India blamed for the Mumbai attacks.

Malik's comments appeared to contradict remarks widely attributed to him on Thursday, denying any foreign involvement in the attack.

"We have not found any leads suggesting the involvement of any religious elements," Malik said.

But he refused to divulge information about how the probe was progressing. Up to 12 men attacked the convoy of officials, coaches and players, firing automatic weapons, grenades and a rocket launcher as the vehicles approached Lahore's Gaddafi Stadium on Tuesday. All the attackers fled without trace.

No one has claimed responsibility for the assault.