ISLAMABAD: The director of the FBI, Robert Mueller, arrived in Pakistan yesterday as security officials detained about two dozen people for questioning over the deadly ambush of the Sri Lankan cricket team.
The Lahore police chief, Haji Habibur Rehman, gave few details but indicated that none of those detained was among the attackers who opened fire on the team bus with grenades and guns on Tuesday, he said.
Up to 12 masked men attacked the team bus, killing at least eight people and injuring several team members before escaping into the teeming streets of the city.
Police have been conducting an intensive manhunt throughout the eastern city in a bid to arrest the gunmen.
Photos of two of the militants have been published and the Government has offered a $US126,000 ($197,000) reward for help to find the men. The Punjab provincial government took out advertisements in newspapers offering the reward.
The ad showed two attackers, one dressed in brown and the other blue, and both carrying backpacks and guns. The image was taken from TV footage of the event.
Most of Pakistan's press yesterday blamed Pakistani Islamist militants and al-Qaeda for the attacks.
The leading English-language newspaper, Dawn, criticised the Government's policy of negotiating with militants in an attempt to neutralise extremist Islamist insurgencies along the country's north-west border with Afghanistan. "If the state resorts to negotiating with militants from a position of weakness, what we will get is disaster, across the board," it said.
But writing in The Wall Street Journal, President Asif Ali Zardari defended his Government's policy. He said the "traditional local clerics" he had negotiated with in Swat valley were not the Taliban and said Pakistan would not negotiate with "extremist Taliban and terrorists".
He warned that the stakes in Pakistan's battle against extremism were high: "If we lose, so too will the world."
In his first public comments on the attack, the British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, said Pakistan must clamp down on "terrorists" in its midst. Mr Brown said the "vast majority" of al-Qaeda fighters were in Pakistan, adding the Government must make arrests to show it is "fulfilling its role in the world community".
But earlier, Pakistan's Interior Minister, Rehman Malik, who is close to Mr Zardari, said: "We suspect a foreign hand behind this incident. The democracy of the country has been undermined, and foreigners are repeatedly attacked to harm the country's image."
Officials said Mr Mueller was in Pakistan to help investigate last year's Mumbai attacks. New Delhi blamed the attacks on Pakistan-based militants.
The assault in Lahore bore many similarities to last year's three-day hostage drama in Mumbai, security officials said.
In Lahore, the attackers appeared to be in their early 20s. They wore trainers 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 said.
One South Asia specialist also raised the possibility that Tamil Tiger rebels in Sri Lanka may have asked Lashkar-e-Taiba militants in Pakistan to attack the cricket team. If true, this would be an ominous sign of collaboration between regional terrorist groups.