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Hired gunmen seen behind attacks on NATO convoys

Hired gunmen seen behind attacks on NATO convoys

By
On
Aug 18, 2011 - 16:06

ISLAMABAD(PANinfo-icon): Pakistani transporters claimed on Thursday that gunmen with links to government officials, not militants, were involved in attacks on NATOinfo-icon supply convoys.

The allegation comes amid increasing attacks on vehicles carrying logistics supplies for NATO-led international troops based in neighbouring Afghanistaninfo-icon.

Most of the assaults have taken Pakistaninfo-icon's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan, Punjab and Sindh provinces, destroying a number of vehicles.

"From Karachi to Khyber, customs and police officials extort thousands of rupees from truckers in bribes," Mir Mohammad Yousuf Shahwani, leader of the All Pakistan Oil-tanker Owners Association, told a press conference in Islamabad.

He said up to 100 trucks travelled from Punjab to the Torkham border crossing on a daily basis and each had to bribe a check-post commander in the Akora Khattak area."If the bribe is not paid, police don't allow trucks to move."

Shahwani accused the check-post commander, Taj Mir Shah, of taking Rs50, 000 from each truck. He also alleged police in Peshawar were stealing oil from tankers and the government had turned a blind eye to the situation.

Shahwani insisted that neither the Talibaninfo-icon nor any other insurgent groups had been involved in attacks on NATO supply convoys. The attacks were carried out by gunmen with links to government officials, he said.

He said transporters in Karachi had also been complaining that police and customs officials sought Rs20, 000 in bribe from each trucker. He warned if the central government did not resolve their problems, they would halt supplies to NATO forces.

The deputy head of the association, Mohammad Ashraf Khan, said provincial transport department officials were fleecing truckers. "Every 500 metres, truckers have to pay bribes," he said.

The government earned a lot of income from the supplies, but still it was doing nothing to resolve transporters' problems, Khan said, warning if their problems were not resolved, they would block the Peshawar-Torkham highway.

Nowshera-based police officer, Mohammad Hussain, said no complaint had so far been registered against the commander in Akora Khattak. He said the truckers bribed police to travel in violation of scheduled timings.

ma/mud

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