Islamabad: The gunmen who attacked the Sri Lankan cricket team on Tuesday appear to be members of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), the banned militant group blamed for the Mumbai terror attacks.
Investigation carried out by Pakistani authorities suggests that a group of "headstrong" LeT activists, who went underground and hid in the garrison city of Rawalpindi after the crackdown on the terrorist group and its front organisation Jamaat-ud-Dawah, had acted on its own and carried out the attack, the Dawn newspaper quoted its sources as saying.
Though officials did not confirm the involvement of the LeT, the daily said they categorically ruled out the possibility of the involvement of India's Research and Analysis Wing or the LTTE in the attack as no evidence had been found so far in this regard.
IN PAKISTAN'S DEFENCE: Interior Ministry chief Rehman Malik says investigation still on.
Investigators probing the assault on the cricket team believe the attackers received commando training in the camp of LeT's operations commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi as their modus operandi had similarities with that of the terrorists involved in the Mumbai attacks.
Authorities have also approached Jamaat-ud-Dawah chief Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, currently under house arrest at his Johar Town residence in Lahore, to help them in tracking down the attackers.
"At this moment, I can only say that investigations into the Lahore attack are going in the right direction. We have also involved the National Database and Registration Authority to determine the identity of the attackers," Interior Ministry chief Rehman Malik told Dawn.
Malik had yesterday ruled out the involvement of India or the Tamil Tigers in the Lahore incident. He said al-Qaeda could have been involved in the attack. However, Malik had also brushed aside speculation about the involvement of the LeT or Lakhvi in the Lahore attack.
Investigators believe that one of the attackers involved in the Lahore incident had assured Lakhvi that his followers would take revenge against Pakistani authorities for his arrest and proposed trial.
Lakhvi was picked up from his camp near Muzaffarabad in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir during an operation by the army in December last year. He is currently being held on suspicion of involvement in the Mumbai attacks. LeT chief Hafiz Saeed and dozens of LeT and Jamaat activists were detained during the crackdown on the two groups last year.
A court extended the police remand of Lakhvi and three other LeT operatives for 14 days on Tuesday, when the Sri Lankan team was attacked in Lahore. Eight persons, most of them policemen, were killed and over 20 others, including seven Sri Lankan players, were injured when a dozen heavily armed terrorists attacked the cricket team's bus near Gaddafi stadium in Lahore.