Bomb attack destroys 22 NATO supply trucks: official
MAZAR-I-SHARIF, Afghanistan - Agence France-Presse
Black smoke risers from burning NATO supply trucks in Samangan, north of Kabul, Afghanistan, Wednesday, July 18, 2012. AP photo
A Taliban bomb attack has destroyed 22 fuel tankers carrying supplies for NATO forces in Afghanistan, local officials said Wednesday.
A pre-dawn explosion triggered a fire which engulfed the trucks, parked in northern Samangan province overnight on their way from Uzbekistan towards NATO forces in the south, Samangan deputy governor Ghulam Sakhi Baghlani said.
"The first explosion resulted in a fire which quickly engulfed as many 22 trucks," he said, adding that three drivers were also injured in the fire.
NATO was forced to make increasing use of more expensive northern supply routes after Pakistan banned NATO traffic following a botched US air strike which killed 24 Pakistani soldiers last November.
Taliban insurgents fighting to overthrow the Western-backed government of President Hamid Karzai claimed responsibility for the attack, saying that several private guards were killed.
A spokesman for NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said initial reports showed that 24 tankers were destroyed after an improvised bomb attack.
But he said he could not immediately confirm that the civilian tankers were carrying fuel for ISAF, which relies on contractors to move many of its supplies.
Pakistan lifted its blockade on NATO supplies earlier this month, but only a few trucks have actually crossed the border.
Owners say they are waiting for compensation and security guarantees in the face of Taliban threats before resuming journeys from the Arabian Sea port of Karachi to the Afghan border.