PESHAWAR: Suspected militants on Saturday torched several tankers supplying oil to US-led coalition forces in Afghanistan in an attack in Chakwal district, police said.
There were conflicting reports about the number of vehicles burnt, with some officials putting the number at 12. Suspected militants in two pick-up trucks rode up to a gas station, some two kilometres away from Talagang, where the tankers were parked and opened fire before setting the vehicles aflame, Aslam Tareen, the regional police officer of Rawalpindi told The Express Tribune. “Four police officers who responded to the scene were killed,” he said, adding that the dead included a Sub-Inspector and three constables.
Several passers-by were also wounded in the crossfire between militants and police. The drivers of the oil tankers said they were headed for Nato troops in Afghanistan, Tareen said. The militants managed to flee. The attack in Chakwal district is a rare, possibly unprecedented such assault in Punjab. Militants and ordinary criminals frequently attack trucks that travel along supply routes used by Nato and US forces in Afghanistan, but usually in the northwest Khyber- Pakhtunkhwa or Balochistan. Meanwhile, at least 10 policemen sustained injuries in a suicide attack in Timergarah, Lower Dir’s district capital, on Saturday.
Police officials said the attack occurred around 6 am when a bomber rammed his explosive laden car into a police vehicle near Timergarah Central Jail. The vehicle was shifting prisoners from Timergarah prison to the Swat district. Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Shakil Khan said that around 100 kilograms of explosives were used in the attack. The police also recovered the suicide bomber’s hair from the site. The blast destroyed the police vehicle. The injured policemen were rushed to District Headquarters Hospital (DHQ) Timergarah, where two of the injured were declared to be in critical condition.
They were later shifted to hospitals in Peshawar. Security forces cordoned off the area after the blast and began a search operation. Security has been tightened following the attack. This was the second suicide attack during the current month and the fourth since last December. Earlier on April 5, a suicide bomber killed more than 50 people and injured scores of others. The attack occurred in a crowd celebrating the renaming of the province at the Timergarah Rest House. Over the past few months, security has been tightened in the area and there is strict checking of vehicles that enter and exit the city.
Meanwhile in Orakzai Agency, 17 militants were killed as security forces attacked militant hideouts, officials said. The attack that occurred close to Sanghara area killed nine militants, while eight others were killed in aerial strikes in the areas; Kasha, Shakar Tangi and Mashti. Furthermore, eight militants were injured in clashes with security forces. A security official also sustained injuries in the operation, officials said. In retaliation, militants killed at least three rockets at Kalaya headquarters. However, no causalities were reported from the incident. According to official accounts, three key militants surrendered before security forces in the Shamozai area of the Swat district. Security forces have claimed to secure the militant hideouts in the area.