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Pak suspects Qaida, rules out India hand
LAHORE, MAR 6 (Agencies):
Published on 6 Mar. 2009 11:30 PM IST
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Pakistan on Thursday suspected al-Qaida to be behind the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team and said the perpetrators have been Sketches of the suspected gunmen identified while ruling out the involvement of India or LTTE in the terror strike. Investigators have not found any evidence of India's involvement in the attack, interior ministry chief Rehman Malik told reporters at the National Assembly in Islamabad. The possibility of al-Qaida's involvement in Tuesday's attack could not be ruled out, he said, adding the preliminary report of the investigation will be ready by Friday. Hours after the Tuesday attack, a couple of ministers and some police officials hinted at India's involvement. Malik also had said that they suspected involvement of a foreign hand but would not give details till they get proof. As the authorities came under criticism after a dramatic video footage showed the gunmen moving leisurely after striking, Punjab governor Salman Taseer said, "We have identified the people who have carried out the attacks. We are after them." He, however, did not give details or name any suspect. The Army and ISI are helping in tracking down the gunmen, he said. The governor added that the investigators had found a large amount of weapons. "It was like that of a small army". The TV images of gunmen brazenly ambling through a bylane near Liberty Chowk after the attack sparked a wave of angry criticism with former president Pervez Musharraf saying that the security forces had failed to react quickly. "I expected them to shoot down those people who attacked the Lankan team", he said. The former president also saw a conspiracy in the attack. "Whatever happened was very bad. I condemn it in the strongest terms. It was a conspiracy against Pakistan, an attempt to destroy Pakistan's cricket," he said. A top government official in Lahore conceded there were gaps in security provision for the Sri Lankan cricket team. "A terrorist has to succeed only once, whereas security has to be successful all the time," Khusro Pervaiz, commissioner of Lahore, said. "After every incident one gets wiser. You get to know the gaps and how you should not repeat those gaps," he added. Media reports in Pakistan also claimed that the careless approach of investigators had resulted in a loss of important forensic evidence related to the terror attack. According to the Daily Times, investigators neither wore gloves, nor avoided touching things that carried the fingerprints of the shooters. Senior police officials and forensic experts were seen touching and collecting arms and ammunitions without wearing gloves. Meanwhile, an opposition leader declared that the ambush of the Sri Lankan cricket team shows security in Pakistan has "collapsed". "The security system has collapsed because this government is too busy in their quest for power," Mushahid Hussain, an opposition leader, said.

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