Nineteen oil tankers carrying fuel for Nato forces stationed in Afghanistan were torched on Monday in Mastung, Balochistan.
Witnesses told The Express Tribune that four men, armed with sophisticated weapons, came in a car and opened fire at the tankers that were escorted by Balochistan Levies personnel. The incident took place near Gwandaine area of Dasht sub-district of Mastung. Witnesses said the attackers managed to flee the scene.
“Around 25 to 30 Afghanistan-bound oil tankers were on their way to Chaman from Mehmood Kot when a group of armed men opened fire on them in Dasht,” said Balochistan Levies official Ismail Kurd. “We managed to save five oil tankers,” Kurd said, adding that the drivers of all tankers fled the scene after the incident. Admitting that Balochistan Levies lack the resources to provide proper cover, he said that only two Levies vehicles provide security to Nato oil tankers.
“We had just parked the oil tankers and were sitting nearby. After a few minutes I heard intense firing,” said Faraz, one of the drivers who fled after hearing gunshots.
This is the single biggest attack on Nato fuel tankers during the past few months. Five oil tankers were torched in the same area two days ago. However, no group has so far claimed responsibility.
Unidentified militants regularly target Nato oil tankers on highways in Balochistan, which is the second largest route for supplies of goods, military hardware and fuel to coalition forces stationed in Afghanistan. The Karachi-Quetta-Chaman Highway is used to transport military hardware and other logistical equipment while the Mehmood Kot-Quetta-Chaman Highway is used to transport fuel supplies.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 23rd, 2011.