Islamabad: Assailants in Pakistan launched two separate attacks Friday on vehicles carrying fuel for NATO and American forces in Afghanistan, highlighting the vulnerability of the US-led mission a day after Pakistan closed a major border crossing.
A truck driver and his assistant were burned alive in the second attack on a single tanker in the parking lot of a restaurant in southeastern Baluchistan province, said police officer Mohammad Azam. He said "anti-state elements" were behind the attack.
That term could refer to Islamist militants, separatist rebels active in the region or even common criminals.
Earlier Friday, suspected Islamist militants torched 27 tankers carrying oil for troops in Afghanistan in Sindh province.
The trucks were attacked shortly after midnight by some 10 gunmen, said Abdul Hamid Khoso, a senior police official.
The vehicles were parked at a terminal on the edge of Shikarpur town in Sindh province when the attackers opened fire, forcing drivers and others to flee, before setting the fires. No one is believed to have been wounded or killed. The trucks were still alight several hours after the attack.
Nisar Ahmed, a police official from Shukarpur, said that the tankers had arrived in Shikarpur from the southern port city of Karachi and were heading to Quetta, a major city in the southwest. From there, they likely would have used the Chaman border crossing.
Chaman remains open, unlike the Torkham border crossing, which Pakistan ordered closed to NATO trucks on Thursday.
Chaman has seen fewer attacks than Torkham, but the shutting of one point of entry to Afghanistan creates a bottleneck militants can easily exploit.
Militants and ordinary criminals frequently attack NATO supply trucks as they travel across Pakistan to landlocked Afghanistan. US and NATO move the vast majority of their non-lethal supplies through Pakistan, but have long insisted the attacks have had relatively little impact.
Recent alleged NATO helicopter intrusions on Pakistani soil have raised tensions, however. On Thursday, Pakistan said two NATO choppers fired on one of its border posts in the northwest`s Kurram tribal region, killing three Pakistani soldiers.
It closed the Torkham border crossing, which connects Afghanistan to Pakistan`s Khyber tribal region, soon after news of the attack emerged.
NATO said its helicopters entered Pakistani airspace and hit a target only after receiving ground fire. The alliance expressed condolences to the families of the soldiers and said both nations would investigate the incident.