Quetta: Assailants torched more than 20 tankers in Pakistan carrying fuel for US and NATO troops in neighboring Afghanistan on Thursday, the first reported attack since Islamabad closed the border to protest coalition airstrikes that killed 24 Pakistani troops last month.
The attack highlighted the vulnerability of the supply trucks that are waiting for the country`s two border crossings into Afghanistan to reopen. Around 40 percent of the non-lethal supplies for US-led troops in landlocked Afghanistan travel across Pakistani soil.
Islamabad temporarily closed one of its Afghan crossings to NATO supplies last year after US helicopters accidentally killed two Pakistani soldiers. Suspected militants or criminals took advantage of the impasse to launch many attacks against stranded or rerouted trucks carrying NATO supplies.
Police officer Hamid Shakil says unknown men fired rockets at a terminal for the tankers close to the southwestern city of Quetta. He said at least 23 tankers were set ablaze. There were no immediate reports of casualties.
Pakistan closed both its border crossings into Afghanistan for trucks carrying NATO war supplies on Nov. 26, hours after airstrikes by the US-led coalition killed 24 Pakistani troops on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. US and NATO officials have said the incident was a mistake, and have pledged to investigate.
The closure has meant that several hundred trucks have been stranded at poorly guarded terminals around the country.
The border incident sent already tense relations between Pakistan and the United States to new lows, threatening Islamabad`s cooperation in helping negotiate an end to the Afghan war.