France 24 11:56, June 9, 2010
Gunmen destroy NATO supply trucks in Pakistan
Gunmen in Pakistan opened fire on trucks carrying supplies to NATO troops in Afghanistan, torching more than a dozen vehicles and killing seven people near Islamabad, police said Wednesday.
The attack took place overnight at Tarnol on the outskirts of the Pakistani capital on the road to the northwestern city of Peshawar and in turn towards the main NATO supply route into neighbouring Afghanistan.
Although militants have carried out a series of strikes against supplies for US and NATO-led foreign forces fighting the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan, Wednesday's assault was the first so close to the heavily guarded capital.
"Seven deaths have been confirmed. Four are injured. There is no information about any arrests," said police official Gustasab Khan. The casualties were the drivers of the trucks, their helpers or local people, Khan said.
"Unknown attackers opened fire on vehicles parked at Tarnol. Fire erupted in the tankers and trucks, and over a dozen were set ablaze. They were trucks carrying NATO supplies," said police official Tahir Riaz.
Local television stations reported that fire brigades had been mobilised to the scene in order to bring heavy fire under control and said there had been a series of explosions caused by the bursting of tyres and fuel tankers.
Kalim Iman, inspector general of Islamabad police, told reporters that the attack was carried out by 10 to 12 assailants, who stormed the terminal outside the capital.
"We are working to arrest them," he said.
The bulk of supplies and equipment required by the 130,000 US-led foreign troops across the border are shipped through northwest Pakistan, which has been hard hit by shootings and bomb attacks blamed on radical Islamist militants.
But the heavily protected capital has been largely shielded from attacks blamed on Al-Qaeda and Taliban-linked militant attacks, which have killed more than 3,370 people since July 2007.
The attacks began as retaliation over a government siege on a radical mosque in Islamabad and flared last year as the military fought major campaigns against Taliban in the northwest regions of Swat and South Waziristan.
Washington says Pakistan's northwest tribal belt, which lies outside direct government control, is an Al-Qaeda headquarters and a stronghold for militants plotting attacks on US-led troops fighting against the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Faced with the increasingly deadly and costly conflict between Taliban insurgents and the Kabul government, the United States and NATO allies are boosting their troop numbers to a record 150,000 in Afghanistan by August.
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Pakistani firefighters try to extinguish burning NATO oil tankers following a gunmen attack in Quetta on October 6, 2010.
Islamabad, Pakistan (CNN) -- Attackers wielding rockets and machine guns in northwestern Pakistan struck a NATO convoy carrying fuel to Afghanistan, a local police chief said on Wednesday.
Nisar Ahmed Tanoli, the police chief of Noshehra district in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, said 17 oil tankers and four containers were all set ablaze.
This convoy was parked on side of the road, and convoys are generally operated by contracting Pakistani logistics firms, using local trucks and drivers.
This is the latest strike on Afghan-bound supply convoys in Pakistan. Azam Tariq, the central spokesman for Pakistani Taliban, said a special squad designated to strike NATO supply efforts made the attack near Quetta, Pakistan.
The Pakistani Taliban has claimed responsibility for an earlier attack on oil tankers, a spokesman for the militant group told CNN by phone Wednesday.
Quetta police said 20 oil tankers parked near that city were set ablaze Wednesday, and one person died in the attack.
Shah Nawaz, a senior Quetta police official, said more than 12 gunmen in three vehicles opened fire on the tanker trucks. He said the person who died was killed in the shooting.
Nawaz said the gunmen also threw petrol bombs on the trucks. Of the 20 tankers that caught fire, nine were destroyed.
At least five other attacks have been carried out on vehicles carrying supplies for NATO forces in the past week, leaving at least six people dead.
The Pakistani Taliban has also claimed responsibility for two of the earlier attacks on convoys.
"The oil and the machinery is for logistic support to the NATO forces who killed our innocent sisters and brothers in Afghanistan, which we would never allow," Tariq said Wednesday.
Pakistan closed the main land route for NATO supplies crossing from Pakistan to Afghanistan -- known as the Torkham border -- after U.S. helicopter strikes across the border killed two Pakistani soldiers.
A report from a NATO and Pakistan assessment team concluded that soldiers fired warning shots to let them know of their presence, but the helicopter crews assumed they were insurgents and fired the shots.
"Two coalition helicopters passed into Pakistan airspace several times. Subsequently, the helicopters fired on a building later identified as a Pakistan border outpost, in response to shots fired from the post. The assessment team considered it most probable that they had fired in an attempt to warn the helicopters of their presence. Unfortunately, following the engagement, it was discovered that the dead and wounded were members of the Pakistan Frontier Scouts," NATO's International Security Assistance Force said.
A second supply route through Chaman -- in the western province of Balochistan -- is open, but the Pakistani Taliban is threatening violence on any route used for NATO purposes.
"Our special squad will make [the] supply line to NATO through Chaman border as impossible as we did in Torkham border," Tariq said Wednesday.
Nawaz, the police official, said authorities have also felt an impact.
"After closing of the Torkham border for NATO supplies, pressure on the Chaman border has become almost doubled, which is creating security problems for us," he said.
Tariq said this week that the earlier Pakistani Taliban attacks were carried out as revenge for drone strikes and NATO's attacks in Pakistan.
"U.S. and NATO forces are killing innocent Pakistanis, which is unacceptable, and we will teach them a lesson by such attacks," Tariq said.
Supply convoys are important for the Afghan war effort. Coalition forces rely heavily on convoys from Pakistan to bring in supplies and gear.
In Washington Tuesday, Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said that attacks on fuel convoys interrupt a tiny fraction of U.S. war supplies.
"There have been attacks historically on NATO convoys passing through Pakistan to Afghanistan. And they are sometimes sensational and they are sometimes horrific and they are sometimes deadly and that is tragic," Morrell said. "But if you put this in context and in perspective, we're talking about. impacting about 1 percent of the supplies that we funnel through Pakistan into Afghanistan."
CNN's Fred Pleitgen and Charley Keyes contributed to this report.
Published Monday, July 30, 2012
Pakistani officials said Monday that a ban on NATO trucks at the main border crossing into Afghanistan will last until the government promises to safeguard security.
Officials closed the northwestern Torkham crossing, the quickest route to the Afghan capital Kabul from the port of Karachi, to NATO traffic on Thursday, just weeks after lifting a seven-month blockade on NATO trucks.
The Pakistani Taliban have vowed to attack NATO supplies and last Tuesday, one of the truck drivers was shot dead in the northwestern town of Jamrud.
The suspension comes with the head of Pakistani intelligence, Lieutenant General Zaheer ul-Islam, due to hold talks with CIA chief David Petraeus in Washington this week, the first such talks for a year.
"The security plan by the political administration, police and Frontier Corps (a paramilitary force) is being prepared and once it is finalized and approved, NATO trucks will be allowed to pass," Bakhtiar Khan, a local administration official, told AFP.
Authorities in the northwest say they wrote to the federal government 11 days ago, asking them to finalise a security plan as soon as possible.
"But so far we have not received any response," information minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain told AFP from the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
Federal government officials were not immediately available to comment.
Islamabad closed its land routes to NATO convoys after US air strikes killed 24 Pakistani soldiers on November 26, but on July 3 agreed to reopen them after Washington said sorry for the deaths.
At Pakistan's southwestern crossing into Afghanistan, officials said no restrictions have been placed on NATO supply trucks, but that traffic had thinned.
"Fifty-eight trucks are parked at Chaman awaiting clearance from Afghan officials," clearing agent Ashraf Khan told AFP.
In Karachi, many truckers won't leave without security guarantees and compensation, said Akram Khan Durrani, president of the All Pakistan Oil Tankers Owners Association.
"Until that, we are not going anywhere," he told AFP.
"It is too dangerous to take our vehicles out without solid guarantees. The situation has changed dangerously as many political and religious groups are against it and the Taliban could strike anywhere if we have no security."Tags
Pakistan has confirmed that it has decided to reopen NATO supply routes into Afghanistan that have been closed since November.
Qamar Zaman Kaira, minister of information, told reporters in Islamabad that the meeting of Pakistan's defense committee of the cabinet had decided to reopen the NATO routes.
The confirmation came soon after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced the supply lines would be reopened.
Clinton said that Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar had informed her via telephone on July 3 that "the ground supply lines into Afghanistan are opening."
Clinton also said she offered to Khar "sincere condolences" for losses suffered by the Pakistani military in botched U.S. air strikes that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in a remote post on the Afghan border post on November 26.
U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland interpreted Clinton's remarks by saying that "the intent here is that we are both sorry for the losses suffered by both our countries in this fight against terrorists."
The November air strikes on the Pakistani border post prompted Islamabad immediately to close all NATO supply routes into Afghanistan in response and sparked a major diplomatic rift between the two wary allies.
Islamabad had long said that Washington must apologize for the air strikes and fatalities before it would reopen the routes.
Sherry Rehman, Pakistan's ambassador in Washington, said on July 3 that ties between the two countries are now poised to improve.
"We appreciate Secretary Clinton's statement, and hope that bilateral ties can move to a better place from here," Rehman said.
'Larger Interest Of Peace And Security'
The State Department said that as part of the reopening, "Pakistan will continue not to charge any transit fee in the larger interest of peace and security in Afghanistan and the region."
"The [U.S.] secretary of defense has spoken to the fact that it was expensive for us during the period when the [ground lines of communication] were closed," Nuland told reporters. "One of the things that has resulted from this is that we have restored the [ground lines of communication] and we are going to be paying the exact same amount as we were paying before."
Earlier hopes of a deal on reopening the routes fell apart at a NATO summit in Chicago in May amid reports that Pakistan was demanding huge fees for each of the thousands of trucks that would rumble across the border every year.
The blockade has forced NATO to rely on longer, more expensive northern routes to Afghanistan through Russia and Central Asia.
PHOTO GALLERY: Hauliers in Pakistan have awaited a green light since the routes were closed in November.
In Pakistan, NATO Truckers Await Green Light
Washington's announcement that the routes will now reopen comes after Pakistan's new prime minister, Raja Pervez Ashraf, earlier on July 3 acknowledged that continuing the seven-month blockade on NATO supplies into Afghanistan was negatively affecting relations with the United States and other NATO member states.
The Pakistani Taliban responded to the news on July 3 by threatening to attack NATO supply trucks and kill drivers if they try to resume supplies to troops in Afghanistan.
Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan told AFP the Taliban "will not allow any truck to pass and will attack it."
The U.S. commander of NATO troops fighting the Taliban and remnants of Al-Qaeda, General John Allen, welcomed Pakistan's decision to reopen NATO supply lines into Afghanistan.
Allen made his remarks in a statement released in Kabul that also paid tribute to the "sacrifices" made by Pakistani, as well as Afghan and NATO troops in the war.
Relations between Islamabad and Washington had been particularly frigid since U.S. special forces carried out a secret cross-border operation from Afghanistan that killed Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden at a compound in Abbotabad, Pakistan.
There were two further attacks on NATO convoys in Pakistan on Wednesday. The first took place near Pakistani city of Quetta. One person was killed and 10 NATO fuel tankers were set ablaze in that raid. Pakistani media report a second raid in which 20 trucks were burned in a raid near Nowshera. Pakistan has blocked a key NATO supply route into Afghanistan following an airstrike last week which killed three of its soldiers.
Pakistan’s Geo News reports that the latest convoy to be attacked had by-passed the main border crossing into Afghanistan, which has been blocked for a week.
Wednesday’s assault was the latest on supply convoys heading for Afghanistan since Pakistan shut a key border crossing to international forces last week.
Police official Shah Nawaz Khan says the attack occurred in the parking area of a roadside hotel on the outskirts of the southwest city of Quetta.
The attacks have raised tensions already elevated by Pakistan’s decision to close the Torkham crossing in apparent reaction to alleged NATO helicopter strikes on its territory. One of those strikes killed three Pakistani soldiers.
The tankers hit Wednesday were believed headed for a smaller border crossing that remains open.
The BBC has broadcast dramatic footage of the aftermath of the earlier attack at Quetta. One of its Urdu-language reporters Ayub Tareen was filming in front of the tankers and ducked out when there was a large explosion behind him.
Canadian Journalist Graeme Smith has written extensively about the drone strikes from the point of view of the people of the tribal areas of Pakistan, where most of the attacks are concentrated. This is his latest dispatch from the region, published in The Globe and Mail.
Buzzing robots sail through the sky, and nobody sleeps. Poor villagers spend their meagre savings on pills; at night they swallow sedatives and in the morning they take anti-depressants. They sweep their rooms and courtyards every couple of hours, trying to purge their homes of microchips. Nobody has seen the tiny chips – some say they’re invisible to the naked eye, others say the electric filaments are fine enough to be woven into cloth. Every garment is suspect, every speck of dust.
The New America foundation has been tracking US drone strikes on the Afghan-Pakistan border for several years, in both numerical and geographic terms (their figures do not count the latest drone strike). Their figures show a spike in attacks in September. At least some of those strikes were aimed at disrupting a suspected terrorist plot against targets in Western Europe.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the US military is secretly diverting aerial drones and weaponry from the Afghan battlefront to significantly expand the CIA’s campaign against militants in their Pakistani havens. It says the US military can’t get its hands on the drones fast enough.
In recent months, the military has loaned Predator and Reaper drones to the Central Intelligence Agency to give the agency more firepower to target and bombard militants on the Afghan border.
The additional drones helped the CIA escalate the number of strikes in Pakistan in September. The agency averaged five strikes a week in September, up from an average of two to three per week. The Pentagon and CIA have ramped up their purchases of drones, but they aren’t being built fast enough to meet the rapid rise in demand.
By Graham Smith for MailOnline 10:14 GMT 30 Mar 2012, updated 10:16 GMT 30 Mar 2012
Two Nato troops have been killed in southern Afghanistan on a day of violence in the war-torn country that also saw a rogue policeman shoot dead nine sleeping officers.
One Nato service member died in a roadside bomb explosion this morning and the other in an insurgent attack yesterday.
No further details were disclosed, but the deaths bring the number of international troops killed in Afghanistan so far this year to 88.
On patrol: German soldiers walk through a street in the province of Kunduz yesterday. Two Nato troops have been killed in Afghanistan in the last 24 hours - one died in a roadside bomb explosion this morning and the other in an insurgent attack yesterday'U.S. DRONE ATTACK' KILLS FOUR MILITANTS IN PAKISTAN
A suspected U.S. drone fired two missiles at a house in north-west Pakistan this morning, killing four militants.
Protest: Demonstrators burn mock U.S. and Nato flasg as they shout slogans against the resumption of the supply route to Nato forces in Afghanistan in Multan on Wednesday
The attack comes as Pakistani officials have stepped up their calls for the strikes to end, intelligence officials said.
It could complicate U.S. efforts to get Pakistan to reopen its border crossings to supplies meant for Nato troops in Afghanistan.
Pakistan shut the border last November in retaliation for American airstrikes that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.
The country's parliament is debating a revised framework for its relationship with the U.S. that Washington hopes will result in Nato supply routes reopening.
But a key demand is that the U.S. stop drone attacks, which are very unpopular in Pakistan because many people believe they mostly kill civilians - a claim denied by the U.S. and contradicted by independent research.
Today's strike targeted a house in Miran Shah, the main town in the North Waziristan tribal area, a key sanctuary for Taliban and al-Qaida militants, Pakistani intelligence officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The four militants killed in the strike and three wounded were from Uzbekistan, said the officials. Their precise identities were unclear but the attack occurred while the group was sleeping.
In the eastern Paktika province, an Afghan policeman killed nine of his fellow officers as they slept in the early hours of this morning.
Local police blamed the attack, which took place in the town of Yayakhi, on the Taliban.
The province's police chief Dawlat Khan Zadran identified the gunman as Asadullah, who goes by one name.
Bowal Khan, the district's chief, said the shooter was assigned to a small command post when he woke up at 3am for guard duty.Related Articles
He then used his assault rifle to kill the nine men sleeping inside the post, took their weapons and piled them in a pickup truck.
According to Mr Khan, Asadullah then sped away in the truck.
The victims included one of his brothers and the commander of the post, identified as Mohammad Ramazan. Two of the dead were Ramazan's sons.
The motive for the killing was not known, but police in the area blamed the Taliban for the attack.
Paktikan is a stronghold of the Haqqani network, a Pakistani-based group with ties to the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. Although they mostly attack U.S.-led coalition forces, they have often carried out assaults and bombings against the Afghan army and police.
Mr Zadran said: 'This man is a coward. What he did is part of the Taliban conspiracy.'
The killer's two brothers are being held for questioning.
The village police is also known as the Afghan Local Police, or ALP. It is a village-level force that provides security in areas where the Afghan army and police cannot.
Disguise: Captured Taliban militants are presented to the media in Mehterlam, east of Kabul, on Wednesday. Police suspect the Taliban to be behind a rogue policeman who shot dead nine of his colleagues this morning
The ALP is trained by the U.S. troops but commanded and run by the Afghan government and police.
In an unrelated incident, a motorcycle bomb parked by the side of a road exploded on Friday and killed an Afghan police officer and wounded another in Sangin district of southwest Helmand province.
Another police officer was shot and killed outside his house in the capital of Helmand last night.Next Stories 1/30 MOST READ NEWS 1/16
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Suspected militants attacked and set fire to at least 20 oil tankers in Pakistan en route to Nato forces in Afghanistan. police said tonight.
Three people were killed in the attack, which occurred close to Islamabad, the capital, according to senior police official Umar Hayat.
It was the third time since Friday that Nato convoys travelling by land through Pakistan to Afghanistan have been targeted.
"Gunmen opened fire and then set on fire tankers parked on the roadside. It's a big fire. We're trying to control it," Hayat said.
He said the attack had been carried out by "terrorists". The trucks were parked at a poorly guarded terminal when they were set alight.
The tankers were travelling to the Torkham border crossing at one end of the Khyber Pass, one of the main routes used to carry fuel, military vehicles, spare parts, clothing and other non-lethal supplies to foreign troops in Afghanistan. The crossing has been closed for days after three Pakistani troops were killed last week in a helicopter strike near the border by the military alliance in a border area.
The latest attacks are likely to delay the reopening of the supply route, which has heightened tensions between the US and Pakistan.
Pakistan's other main route into Afghanistan, in Chaman in the southwest, remains open.
Nato and the US have alternative supply routes into Afghanistan, but the Pakistani ones are the cheapest and easiest. Most of the coalition's non-lethal supplies are transported over Pakistani soil after they are unloaded at docks in Karachi.
Over the past two years, the convoys, which take several days to reach the border after leaving the port city, have been targeted by militants mostly in the northwestern border area.They have also been attacked by criminals wanting to sell the clothing, vehicles and other equipment they carry.Topics