35 NATO oil tankers torched in Pakistan

By Awais Saleem, IANS,

Islamabad : Thirty-five oil tankers carrying fuel supplies for NATO troops in Afghanistan were set ablaze Wednesday in Quetta, the capital of Balochistan province in southwest Pakistan, police said.

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Banned militant outfit Tehrik-i-Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack that occurred when gunmen opened fire at the tankers parked at a terminal near Akhtarabad area. One person succumbed to injuries caused by firing during the incident.

Police said that the attackers came in two vehicles and opened indiscriminate fire before fleeing away.

“All of us were sleeping when gunshots were fired and we opened our eyes to see fire everywhere,” a driver said.

A total of 45 tankers were parked at the terminal and only 10 could be saved.

With Wednesday’s attack, the total number of tankers burnt in such incidents in Balochistan has now reached 45.

“It is not our responsibility to provide security to NATO terminals,” Inspector General of Police in Balochistan Malik Muhammad Iqbal told media.

There has been a sudden upsurge in the attacks on NATO oil tankers in Pakistan. At least 25 tankers were burnt Oct 4 near Pakistan’s capital Islamabad in an attack that claimed three lives. More than 20 NATO tankers were burnt Oct 1 near Shikarpur in interior Sindh.

Several such incidents earlier have also occurred in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) province causing loss of life and property. The KPK government has decided to suspend supplies till the time the security apparatus for such activity improved.

NATO forces, engaged in the war against militants in Afghanistan since 2001, use the supply route through Pakistan to carry logistics.

The Pakistan government has shut down the NATO supply route for almost a week now to protest a NATO air attack inside the country’s territory along the Afghan border that killed three security personnel.

Foreign office spokesman Abdul Basit said that “the supply could not be restored unless and until the charged public sentiment over such unwarranted attack calmed down”.

(Awais Saleem can be contacted at [email protected])