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Top cop admits security lapse

Khusro Pervez, Lahore’s police commissioner, admitted that “very vivid” security lapses allowed gunmen to ambush Sri Lanka’s cricket team and escape, local media reported on Thursday.

world Updated: Mar 06, 2009 00:45 IST

Khusro Pervez, Lahore’s police commissioner, admitted that “very vivid” security lapses allowed gunmen to ambush Sri Lanka’s cricket team and escape, local media reported on Thursday.

The acknowledgment followed allegations by a referee caught up in Tuesday’s attack that police abandoned him like a “sitting duck.” Video from the area showed the gunmen sauntering down a deserted side street, apparently leaving with no fear of pursuit.

But other Pakistani officials have defended the security measures, noting six policemen guarding the convoy were killed when it was attacked by up to 14 heavily armed men near a stadium in the heart of Lahore.

Lahore commissioner Khusro Pervez admitted in an interview with local media that the gunmen should have been battled by “back-up police support which didn’t arrive.”

“All convoys are provided outer cordons, but in this case the outer cordon did not respond or it was not enough. The vehicles used for escorting the Sri Lankan convoy were not adequate,” the Dawn newspaper quoted him as saying to a television news show owned by the same media company.

“There are certain security lapses which are very vivid and very clear,” he said.

The lapse was all the more shocking because Pakistan knew any incident would end, perhaps for years, its hopes of regularly hosting international sporting events. Even before Tuesday’s ambush, most teams chose not to visit this cricket-obsessed country because of rising violence by Islamic extremists. “It is a source of embarrassment at the international level,” said Ahsan Iqbal, an opposition lawmaker. “This government should be ashamed and make those responsible for criminal negligence in their duties accountable.”

Police have given conflicting accounts of the investigation. One top police official said several suspects had been taken into custody in connection with the attack. Hours later, however, another denied anyone had been detained or even questioned. Officials reached on Thursday said they were pursuing clues in several cities.