Pattaya Daily News

02 October 2010 :: 12:10:29 pm 41677

NATO Supply Tankers Destroyed in Pakistan Hostilities

Tankers carrying supplies for NATO forces in Afghanistan have been destroyed following an attack by gunmen in Shikarpur district of the southern Sindh province.
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Pakistan, 2nd October 2010: Suspected militants in Southern Pakistan have destroyed around 27 tankers by setting them alight as they headed for NATO forces in Afghanistan. It is not yet clear if this attack is linked to a cross border air strike by NATO that killed three Pakistani troops. Many similar attacks have occurred in Pakistan in recent years, but this is the first in this part of the southern province of Sindh.

The Pakistan government shut the Torkham border in the northwest after Thursday’s air raid when a NATO helicopter made a hostile entrance that killed three of its soldiers on the border. NATO said it had retaliated after coming under small arms fire from what it thought were insurgents, but the Pakistan military said its soldiers fired warning shots to let the helicopter know that it had crossed into Pakistan airspace. This is the third time NATO helicopters have allegedly made a hostile entrance over Pakistan airspace in the last week.

The alliance has expressed condolences to the families of the soldiers and both nations have said they would investigate the incident. It has been reported that the tankers were parked at a petrol station at the time of the attack where 15 gunmen armed with rocket launchers and assault rifles opened fire sending the drivers running for cover, before setting the vehicles ablaze.

No one has yet claimed responsibility for yesterday morning’s raid in Shikarpur. In recent years, the alliance, who are aware of relying too much on Pakistan, has looked to move more of its supplies through Central Asian countries north of Afghanistan and Russia.

The risks although small are that the militant attacks could one day seriously cut supplies, but overriding concerns is that by providing the supply routes this gives Islamabad more control in its relationship with Washington. The US cannot press Pakistan to restrict the militants in the northwest, because Islamabad holds a trump card; it can cut off the supplies to the war whenever it wants.

Although it is believed that the attacks are the work of criminals, media reports alleged that truck owners may be behind it in order to fraudulently claim insurance. Security guards are provided for the trucks and tankers in the northwest, but are generally not required in the south and central Pakistan where attacks are uncommon. After the last two helicopter incursions, Pakistani security officials threatened to withdraw protection to NATO convoys should it happen again.

The Pakistan government must balance its support for the US war in Afghanistan and its need for billions of dollars in American aid while maintaining support from its own population.

Reggie Colbeck

Photo : Internet   Category : World News

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