'At every crack you just thought 'this bullet's for me.' We were sitting ducks'
Lahore Britons under fire
Wednesday 04 March 2009
Chris Broad feared for his life when the bus transporting him to the Test match in Lahore was ambushed by terrorists yesterday.
The 51-year-old Broad, who played 25 Tests for England and is the father of paceman Stuart, recalled how his bus carrying match officials was halted for "seven to 10 minutes" while it was peppered with bullets. The driver was killed, leaving the bus stranded in the gunfire, which also claimed the lives of six policemen.
The fourth official, Ahsan Raza, was wounded in the stomach and Broad shielded him with his own body to protect him from more bullets. Raza was in a critical condition in a Lahore hospital last night.
Speaking from Dubai where he and umpires Steve Taufel and Steve Davis were evacuated after the attack, Broad described feeling like a "sitting duck" and admitted he was lucky to escape.
He told BBC Radio 5: "There were five of us in the back of bus all lying on floor just listening to the crack of bullets going on around us and hitting the van. Every time you heard a crack you just thought 'this bullet's for me'. We were unaware of what was going on outside, just that our bus was hit several times. Unfortunately for Ahsan Raza and Abdul Sami, our liaison officer, both got hit.
"The terrorists had killed our driver, so we were stranded. Clearly the terrorists targeted the drivers to try to get the bus stationary. We were sitting ducks."
The match officials had been travelling in a second bus behind the Sri Lanka team when the attacks occurred about half a mile from the stadium.
The Sri Lanka bus also came under gunfire – with seven players and British assistant coach Paul Farbrace injured – but was able to drive away from the incident after shots aimed at their driver missed.
Broad said he believed the fact the Sri Lankan bus was able to escape avoided a greater disaster.
"The Sri Lanka bus driver told us afterwards that he had been shot at two or three times. They missed him so he was able to drive away. It was only when the Sri Lankan bus had gone that the terrorists felt they had missed their target. Once they realised that had missed they probably left."
Broad said there had been no indication of trouble as they travelled to the ground in the same manner they had the previous two days of the Test.
"Nothing seemed out of the ordinary – the roads were blocked off as normal and there were lots of police around," he added.
"When we got to a roundabout about half a mile from the ground, things changed. Initially there was what I would describe as a popping sound. It didn't seem to me that there was rifle fire. The local umpire [Ahsan Raza] said to me 'get on the floor, get on the floor'. It was just a very surreal situation for all of us."
One of the first people to speak to Broad was his son, Stuart, who was in Trinidad with the England team. "My dad saw things that he never expected to see and he never wants to see again," said Stuart. "It was dreadful. He was very shook up about it. It is just an horrific incident and we all feel for the Sri Lanka team, because we can relate to the situation."
Farbrace was also thankful to be alive. "It was very frightening," said the assistant coach, who was wounded. "That panic when you lie on the floor hearing gunfire and you can hear the bus being hit, you just pray one of them doesn't hit you.
"People have talked about grenades, rocket-launchers and all sorts but I have to say I wasn't aware of too much because I was lying on the floor of the coach and just hoping to God I wasn't going to be struck.
"We all got off the coach thankfully because of our driver, who we have just met again and thanked him profusely for his unbelievable efforts to get us out of there – we were very lucky that he was able to get us out.
"I am just very grateful I am still alive. I look back and feel desperately sad for the people who died trying to protect us."
Farbrace described how he heard the windows of the bus breaking and got down on the floor. "It is then you realise you are a sitting duck," he said, adding the players were lucky to be so close to the stadium where they were able to take shelter. He expected to have the injury to his elbow assessed when he arrived back in Colombo.
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