Taliban attack destroys 22 NATO supply trucks

Taliban attack destroys 22 NATO supply trucks

MAZAR-I-SHARIF, Afghanistan
Taliban attack destroys 22 NATO supply trucks

Afghan firefighters spray water on NATO supply trucks in Samangan north of Kabul. Afghan officials say a magnetic bomb placed on a truck destroyed 22 vehicles. AP photo

Taliban bomb attack yesterday destroyed 22 fuel tankers carrying supplies for NATO forces in Afghanistan, according to locals, days after Pakistan agreed to reopen its supply routes to NATO forces.

The pre-dawn explosion triggered a fire that engulfed the trucks, parked in the northern province of Samangan overnight on their way from Uzbekistan towards NATO forces in the south, Samangan Deputy Gov. Ghulam Sakhi Baghlani said, Agence France-Presse reported. “The first explosion resulted in a fire which quickly engulfed as many as 22 trucks,” Baghlani said, adding that three drivers were also injured in the blaze. NATO was forced to make greater use of more expensive northern supply routes after Pakistan banned NATO traffic. Convoy traffic in the east has gotten heavier since Pakistan reopened its border crossings about two weeks ago. Islamabad had blocked NATO supply trucks for seven months in retaliation for U.S. airstrikes that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.

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. “We put explosives on a fuel tanker. When it exploded, we fired on the trucks,” Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid told the Associated Press in a telephone call. A spokesman for NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said initial reports showed that 24 tankers were destroyed after an improvised bomb attack. The tankers in the convoy were transporting fuel south toward the Afghan capital, Kabul, from neighboring Uzbekistan to the north.

Truck owners want compensation, security

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. ISAF spokesman Brig. Gen. Gunter Katz said this week that there had been an increase in insurgent attacks in Afghanistan recently.

“Generally, in the past 12 weeks, we have [seen] a slight increase, 10 percent, of insurgent attacks on Afghan security forces and international troops,” Katz told a news conference. So far this year, 240 coalition service members have been killed in Afghanistan, including at least 172 Americans.