Stranded NATO trucks destroyed in Pakistan

Islamabad, Aug 31 (DPA) More than 25 oil tankers and trucks carrying supplies to US and NATO forces were destroyed in an overnight attack in Pakistan’s remote town of Chaman on the Afghan border, police said Monday.

Hundreds of lorries were stranded at the Chaman border crossing in Pakistan’s south-western Balochistan province after Afghan truckers blocked the road link Friday to protest strict checks of inbound vehicles by Pakistani security forces.

Suspected Islamist insurgents attacked the vehicles, mostly loaded with armoured vehicles for the Western troops, Sunday evening shortly after the Muslim truckers broke their Ramadan fast, police officer Abdul Basheer said.

“Presumably a remote-controlled bomb hit an oil tanker, triggering a blaze that quickly engulfed other trucks,” Basheer told DPA by phone.

A gunfight between the paramilitary forces and the attackers ensued.

A charred body believed to be that of a driver was found in one of the gutted oil tankers, while at least one soldier was wounded in the clash.

Traffic on the overland route was restored early Monday morning.

The highway running through Chaman is one of the two main supply routes used by contractors to ferry fuel and military supplies from Pakistan’s southern port city of Karachi to the US and NATO troops in landlocked Afghanistan.

Militants have staged relatively fewer attacks on the Chaman road link than on the main Khyber Pass route in Pakistan’s north-western tribal region.

Pakistani authorities have increased checking of lorries coming from Afghanistan since April 4 after around 50 Afghans, who were being smuggled to Iran via Balochistan, were found dead in a container truck left abandoned in the provincial capital, Quetta.