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‘We are being shot at... We are being shot at’

world Updated: Mar 04, 2009 00:26 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Sutirtho Patranobis
Hindustan Times
‘We are being shot at... We are being shot at’

Major General V.R. Silva was in office when his mobile phone rang at about 9:45 a.m. As it often happens with international calls, the number did not flash on the screen.

"I said hello, but there seemed to be no one on the other side. I could only hear a lot of noise and screaming. Then I heard voices shouting in Sinhala in the background and heard the sound of glass shattering. It sounded chaotic. Suddenly, Ajantha (Mendis) spoke. 'We are being shot at. We are being shot at,' I heard him say amid all the noise and shouts. Then the line got cut," said Silva.

For Silva, the next few minutes passed agonisingly. "I was feeling helpless. I did not even have Ajantha's number," Silva, who is the Sri Lankan army's chief of cricket, said.

After about 15 minutes, the phone rang again. This time Ajantha sounded calmer. "He told me that all the players were still inside the bus, lying on the floor with glass shards all over them. 'I am injured', he said, adding that many others were
injured too. There was blood all around," said Silva, quoting the spinner.

He said that at that point, he did not know what to do. "Luckily, I had team manager Brendon Kuruppu's number and called him. He told me at least one person had suffered a bullet injury. He said it was difficult to say which player was more injured as many were bleeding," Silva continued.

By then, the news that Lankan cricketers were under attack was being flashed on television screens. A little later, Ajantha, who is in the Sri Lankan army, called Silva again. "Ajantha told me the terrorists were shooting from a distance of 50 metres. He said the cricketers were lucky to have escaped and added that the injured were being given first aid at the Gaddafi stadium."

A few hours later, Kumar Sangakkara told a local radio station: "The injuries are not serious and we all are keeping safe and fine."

The father of skipper Mahela Jayawardene told news agency IANS that his son had called his wife from Lahore to say that he too had suffered minor injuries in his leg. Kushil Gunasekara, who manages Muttiah Muralitharan, said the player had called his family members and confirmed his safety. "He has confirmed that all the players were safe, but was obviously so shocked and dismayed that he could not speak for too long.”

Jayawardene shocked: Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene was relieved that none of his teammates got seriously injured. "We are obviously all still shocked and shaken after this morning's attacks,” he said.