Tankers carrying oil to Afghanistan blasted


Islamabad : Ten tankers carrying oil for US-led troops in Afghanistan were blown up near Pakistan's border town of Torkham when two rockets were fired into the parking lot.

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With no fire brigades or civil defence services available in the area to put out fires or assist during emergencies, the fire was still burning several hours after the rockets were fired Monday evening, The News reported from Landikotal in North West Frontier Province (NWFP).

Eight people, all Afghan refugees living in a locality near the parking lot, have been taken into custody. Each oil tanker contained 40,000 litres of oil.

Authorities later claimed to have found and defused three more rockets from a nearby mound. The rockets, which had timers attached to them, were Russian-made MRB-12 type.

NATO, that mans the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and is engaged in a major military operation against the Taliban and foreign mercenaries in south and southeastern parts of Afghanistan, depends heavily on supplies of petrol and fuel from Pakistan.

The tankers were owned by Pakistani tribals, one of whom said each oil tanker cost between Rs.3 million to Rs.4 million.

"It is a big loss to us. We are demanding compensation from the Attock Oil Company," said Shakir Afridi, president of the Truckers' Association.

He said the company and the customs authorities were responsible for keeping them waiting for clearance for two weeks or even more at a stretch.

"It takes 20 to 25 days to get an email from Kabul clearing the crossing of an oil tanker into Afghanistan. We, the transporters, wait helplessly all this time," Afridi added, threatening to stop oil supply to Afghanistan.

In the last month-and-a-half, 22 oil tankers and containers had been destroyed or damaged in different parts of NWFP but no steps had been taken by the government to provide security to transporters, he said.