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March 3, 2009
The condition of Ahsan Raza, the Pakistani umpire who was severely wounded during Tuesday's terror attack, is improving. Raza underwent surgery at the Services Hospital in Lahore on Tuesday to repair a collapsed right lung and damaged liver, and a hospital spokesman described the procedure as successful.
The 34-year-old remains in a critical but stable condition, and hospital officials told Cricinfo he could be released from the intensive care ward in the next three-to-four days. Raza was travelling in a mini-bus with umpires Simon Taufel, Steve Davis and Nadeem Ghouri, and match referee Chris Broad, when terrorists opened fire in front of the gates to the Gaddafi stadium. He was shot in the back, but medical staff said the damage to his liver had only been "superficial".
Raza, 34, hails from Lahore and played 21 first-class fixtures as a wicketkeeper before turning to umpiring. According to Ghouri, Broad threw himself on Raza after realising he had been shot. "It was very brave," Ghouri told Reuters.
Davis added: "[Broad] actually was lying on the floor next to Ahsan and when Ahsan got hit and blood was gushing out of him. Chris tried to apply some pressure to the wound and tried to stem the flow of blood from him while we were all lying on the floor. It seemed like ages and then suddenly the door opened and a policeman came into the van and then he lay across the top of Chris and Ahsan and I think he was more trying to protect himself."
Broad said they felt like "sitting ducks" and "every time you heard a crack you just thought 'this bullet's for me'". "The terrorists had also killed our driver so we were stranded," he told BBC Radio from Dubai. "Clearly the terrorists targeted the drivers to try and get the bus stationary." He said the liaison officer Abdul Sami was also hit during the shooting.
"It is very difficult to put it into words," Broad said. "There were five of us in the back of the van all lying on floor just listening to the crack of bullets going on around us and hitting the van."
Davis, an Australian umpire, was left shaken by the incident. "I really thought that was the end of it. I thought that was our moment," Davis told ABC Radio. "We heard what sounded like fire crackers and popping off and we realised it was something a bit more serious so we all hit the floor of our van. We had come to a halt behind the Sri Lankan bus.
"It seemed like ages but we were pelted with bullets and the windows started smashing in. Our driver was shot dead. Our liaison officer was sitting next to the driver. He was wounded in the shoulder and he got to the floor."
Broad said nothing had seemed out of the ordinary before the attacks. "The roads were blocked off as normal and there were lots of police around," he said. "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'. So we all dived on the floor and that is where we stayed for seven to 10 minutes while everything went on around us. It was just a very surreal situation for all of us." All the match officials, with the exception of Raza, were relocated to Abu Dhabi on Tuesday evening.
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