Taliban, LeT, al-Qaeda... all suspects in Lahore attack

American counter-terrorism officials were on Wednesday quoted as saying that the Taliban and the Lashkar-e-Toiba were suspects in Tuesday's deadly attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore.

Though it is still not clear and too early to identify who was responsible for the attack, The New York Times quoted a South Asia specialist as raising the possibility that LTTE in Sri Lanka might have asked LeT militants in Pakistan to attack the visiting cricket team.

"If true, this would be an ominous sign of collaboration between regional terrorist groups," it added.

American experts, the paper said, voiced concern that such attacks might be the new terrorist strike of choice instead of suicide bombings.

"It's likely there will be more of these... attacks, which are much more difficult to defend against," said Juan Zarate, who was the White House's counter-terrorism official under George W Bush. "Mumbai has become a terrorist exemplar."

"In Lahore, the paper noted, the attackers also appeared to be in their early 20s. They wore sneakers and loose pants and carried backpacks loaded with weapons and high-energy snacks of dried fruit and chocolate, all characteristics of the Mumbai gunmen."

"The gunmen in Lahore walked casually as they fired, a stance that appeared to be part of the training of the attackers in Mumbai," security experts were quoted as saying.

"The (Lahore) attack appeared to have been well-planned. Because it occurred on the third day of the cricketers' match, the assailants had time to carry out reconnaissance on the previous mornings," The New York Times said.

The Sri Lankan team had agreed to play in Pakistan after other major world teams had refused to come, citing poor security. To persuade the Sri Lankans to visit, the Pakistanis offered presidential-style security, Pakistani television reported. But the Lankan team did not receive the security it had asked for, it said.

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