54 Nato trucks burnt in Pakistan

2010-10-07 13:10

Islamabad - Firefighters in north-western Pakistan were on Thursday trying to extinguish a fire that engulfed 54 trucks carrying supplies for Nato troops in Afghanistan after the latest suspected militant attack on supply convoys, police said.

The raid took place in Nowshera district in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province late on Wednesday.

"An unknown number of miscreants came from the nearby mountains and started to set fire to around 80 oil tankers parked at the roadside," Behroz Khan, the police investigator, said.

"A total of 54 trucks caught fire and 49 of these are still on fire," Khan said on the phone.

"The firefighters are trying hard to save some of these tankers but they lack resources. They don't have firefighting foam and are using only water. That's why it’s becoming difficult to control the fire."

The trucks were waiting for the reopening of the Torkham border crossing, which was closed a week ago after Nato helicopters attacked a Pakistani post along the Afghan frontier. Two soldiers died and four more were injured in the attack.

‘Mistaken’ raid

The border incident has rocked the already tense relations between the United States and Pakistan - two key allies in the fight against the Islamist insurgency in Afghanistan.

The US on Wednesday apologised to Pakistan over the cross-border helicopter raid, saying that it took place "mistakenly".

Anne Patterson, US ambassador to Pakistan, formally issued an apology to the Pakistani government, as did General David Petraeus, the head of international forces in Afghanistan, the Washington Post reported.

Their statements said that an investigation into the September 30 attack concluded that poor coordination resulted in the deaths and that the pilots believed the soldiers were Taliban militants.

Despite the apology, the Torkham border crossing remained closed for Nato supplies on Thursday.

"We have not yet received orders to allow Nato trucks to pass through," a senior officer from paramilitary forces that guard the frontier said.

Germans in Europe attack plot

Pakistan has repeatedly condemned the US drone attacks in its lawless tribal region from where alleged Taliban and al-Qaeda members conduct cross-border raids on international forces in Afghanistan.

The intensified drone campaign has left more than 140 people, most of them suspected insurgents, dead in 26 strikes since September 3.

On Monday a drone fired two missiles into a compound in North Waziristan district, killing 10 people, including eight alleged militants from Germany.

Pakistani intelligence officials claimed that the dead German nationals were linked to a plot unearthed recently to carry out attacks in Britain, France and Germany.