Gunmen on Saturday torched at least 29 oil tankers in southwest Pakistan, the sixth attack in just over a week as militants continued to target a Nato supply route into Afghanistan. Two police officers were hurt in the attack in the remote Mitri area, 180 kilometres southeast of Quetta.
According to eyewitness accounts, the oil tankers were parked near a roadside hotel in Mitri when more than 30 armed men on motorcycles opened fire from four directions and also lobbed rockets on the oil tankers. Consequently, fire broke out in the tankers and also engulfed nearby shops. Firefighters were called from Sibi district in order to bring the blaze under control. After seven hours of continuous effort, the fire was brought under control.
At least two Balochistan Levies personnel sustained bullet injuries as they resisted the attack on the oil tankers by exchanging gunfire, official sources confirmed. They sustained serious injuries and were taken to hospital for treatment.
Twenty-nine oil tankers and two shops were completely gutted in the attack and a huge fire also caused disruption to normal traffic on the National Highway. Levies officials and personnel rushed to the spot soon after the incident and threw a cordon in and around the area.
Nobody has so far claimed responsibility for the latest attack, which came three days after militants torched over 40 Nato oil tankers and containers in the northwestern city of Nowshera and in southwestern Quetta.
“The assailants also fired rockets on oil tankers,” driver Mohammad Khan told this scribe. “We had arrived from Jacobabad at 2:00 am and we were sleeping in the hotel when assailants carried out their deadly attack.”
Two to three blasts occurred when oil tankers were engulfed by fire, an eyewitness account said. He said that the assailants who were riding over 20 motorcycles fled the scene after the attack. It was unprecedented that the assailants formed a huge lashkar in attacking the Nato oil and other supply vehicles in the area. Talking to journalists, Deputy Commissioner Abdul Mateen said that Levies personnel had sealed off all the existing and entry points of the district for the arrest of the culprits. (with additional input from AFP)
Published in The Express Tribune, October 10th, 2010.
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