The attack occurred when the Sri Lankan team reached the ground to play the third day of the second Test against Pakistan. Just when the visitors were about to enter the stadium, armed men opened fire and even threw grenades at the bus carrying the players.
The attack caused the death of six Pakistani security officers and two civilians, in addition to wounding six Sri Lankan cricket players. The worst hit among the players was batsman Thilan Samaraweera who was shot in his right foot.
In a recent interview with former England captain for Michael Atherton Sky SportsSri Lankan Legend Kumar Sangakkara, who was on the bus when the attack occurred, remembers the horrific incident.
Sangakkara recalls how he and his teammates saved themselves when they were attacked and how the incident helped them get a perspective on life.
Here’s what he said:
“That was a tour organized by interim committee chairman Arjuna Ranatunga. For some reason they planned a tour to Pakistan when no other country went there due to security concerns. We even wrote to him [Ranatunga] about our concerns and to explore insurance for players if something happens. Being politely refused, they said they had done all their basic work. So we left.
On the day of the attack, we had the usual banter on the bus, people talking about what we were going to do that night. One of us bowlers quickly said ‘the wicket is so flat here, I will get a stress fracture or something. I hope the bomb explodes, so we can go home ‘.
And 20 seconds later, this happened.
Our team’s masseurs were at the front, we heard gunfire, we thought they were firecrackers. He got up and said ‘get down, they shot the bus’. I think Dilshan [Tillakaratne] also in front, I’m more central. Mahela [Jayawardene] always sitting right behind, Murali [Muttiah Muralitharan] was sitting right behind me so he could disturb Thilan Samaraweera. I remember Tharanga Paranavitana, the opening act on her debut tour, I thought, was up front.
Yes, everything is chaotic. We hid in the aisles of the bus, everyone on top of each other really, and then the shooting began. They shoot buses as often as possible, throw grenades, and even fire rocket launchers. And for some reason, I don’t know why, we all survived.
Thilan was injured, I was hit on the shoulder with lots of shrapnel. Ajantha Mendis is injured. Tharanga Paranavitana rose bloodily from her chest and fainted saying she had been shot. We heard ‘ooh and aah’ from the whole bus. Paul Farbrace has an iron nail in his hand.
We tried to enter the ground, which was only about 500 meters from where we were. Unfortunately, most of the security personnel who guarded us died. That is tragic. They tried to shoot the bus driver but only passed a few inches. We survived maybe because he was left alive to drive us through it. Every day he used to make four attempts to pass through the narrow gate, but this time, he drove straight to the ground and we went down.
We thought Tharanga Paranavitan had died, but he felt his back and said that there were no holes in it. Thilan was taken by an ambulance to his hospital because he was shot and bled everywhere.
Being a Sri Lankan Cricket team, there are jokes from one side and a little laughter from the other and everyone starts breathing, talking, chatting. But we never feel sorry for ourselves. We do not swarm and think: “why us?” I think a lot of the talk is about the fact that we pass three or four minutes of what many people go through every day (in war zones etc.). It’s wonderful to see a team talking about things like that. “
Watch Sangakkara’s complete interview with Atherton here where he talks about growing up in Sri Lanka, the 2004 tsunami, and others:
The first part of the interview here: