Pakistani police confirmed on Sunday (28 August) that four alleged militants suspected of being involved in the 2009 attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team were killed during a shootout in Lahore. The men, who were in police custody at the time of their deaths, were attacked by a group of gunmen on Saturday.
Police said that a group of seven or eight gunmen attacked the convoy late on Saturday on the as they travelled on the edge of Lahore. Authorities said they returned fire and that the four men were killed in the shootout, Reuters reported.
The gunmen reportedly attempted to break the militants out of police custody, The Associated Press reported. The Punjab counter-terrorism department said in a statement that authorities were searching for the attackers.
According to Reuters, the Sri Lankan cricket team was travelling by bus in March 2009 when a group of at least 10 gunmen attacked. The attackers fired with rifles, grenades and rockets, injuring six players, their coach and killing eight Pakistanis.
The 2009 attack was claimed by the Pakistani Taliban and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, an affiliated extremist group, according to the AP. A majority of international cricket tours to Pakistan were then cancelled and the Pakistani cricket team was forced to play its "home" games in the United Arab Emirates, Reuters noted.
Pakistan has intensified its fight against various terrorist groups in the country in the past two years. The AP reported that the Pakistani military conducted an operation in North Waziristan, a tribal region near the Afghan border and a stronghold for Al Qaeda and other terrorist organisations.
However, the country's capital Lahore remains relatively safer than any other part of Pakistan, Reuters noted.