Nato supply tankers set on fire in Pakistan
Islamabad, October 1, 2010
Suspected militants in Pakistan set fire to more than two dozen tankers carrying fuel for Nato troops in Afghanistan on Friday, officials said, a day after three soldiers were killed in a cross-border Nato air strike.
Angered by repeated incursions by Nato helicopters over the past week, Pakistan has blocked a supply route for coalition troops in Afghanistan.
Pakistan is a crucial ally for the United States in its efforts to stabilise Afghanistan, but analysts say border incursions and disruptions in Nato supplies underline growing tensions in the relationship.
A senior Pakistani intelligence official said the border incursions could lead to a "total snapping of relations."
Senior local officials blamed "extremists" for the attack on the tankers in the southern town of Shikarpur.
About 12 people, their faces covered, opened fire with small arms in the air to scare away the drivers and then set fire to 27 tankers.
"Some of them have been completely destroyed and others partially. But there is no loss of human life," Shikarpur police chief Abdul Hameed Khoso told Reuters.
The tankers were parked at a filling station on their way to Afghanistan from Pakistan's southern port city of Karachi. The previous day, three Pakistani soldiers were killed and three wounded in two cross-border strikes by Nato forces chasing militants in Pakistan's northwestern Kurram region.
It was the third cross-border incident in a week, the Pakistan military said. Nato said the helicopters briefly crossed into Pakistan airspace after coming under fire from people there.
Hours later, Pakistani authorities halted tankers carrying supplies for the Nato forces passing through the Khyber tribal region on the Afghan border.
About half of all cargo for Nato forces in Afghanistan travels through Pakistan, most of it via two main border crossings: Chaman north of Quetta in Baluchistan and Torkham at the Khyber Pass.
Another third flows into Afghanistan through the northern distribution network across Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. - Reuters