400 fuel trucks gutted, some drivers missing
KABUL (Pajhwok): Attackers set on fire 400 fuel tankers trucks parked on the outskirts of Kabul in the Arghandi square in Paghman district overnight, with some drivers and cleaners missing.
The trucks were set afire at around 10:30pm and continued to burn through Saturday noon. Officials said the cause of the fire remained unknown, but the Taliban claimed they torched the vehicles carrying fuel for NATO forces.
The drivers also staged a protest demonstration blocking the Kandahar-Kabul road and demanded reimbursement for their losses.
One of the drivers, Hayatullah, who was present at the scene, told Pajhwok Afghan News that three consecutive bomb blasts caused fire to the tankers.
He said all the vehicles torched were privately owned and confirmed they supplied fuel for NATO forces. “All of us are destroyed. Security forces should pay for the losses because they have failed to protect the tankers.”
The driver said the price of each tanker hovered between $35000 and $40000 and each carried up to 50 tonnes of oil, all gutted.
The Paghman district police chief, Col. Amarullah, told Pajhwok Afghan News nearly 400 tankers had gutted in the fire. He said there might be some casualties among drivers but he had no details in this regard.
But Samiullah, who lost his tanker to the fire, said a number of drivers and cleaners, who were asleep inside the vehicles, had been missing.
Without giving further details, he said they had recovered the remains of two persons from the burning vehicles.
Khan Zaman, whose two tankers were destroyed in the incident, said they had parked their vehicles in the area 40 days ago waiting for security escort, which did not come until their vehicles were torched.
He said the government had stopped their vehicles in Paghman because it failed to ensure security on the Kabul-Kandahar highway.
He said drivers had staged protests thrice over the past one month but they were not allowed to proceed despite repeated promises by government officials.
The Ministry of Interior said it had appointed a team to investigate the incident. In a statement, the ministry said the exact number of tankers torched was yet to be determined, but initial investigation by police showed 200 tankers had been torched.
It said the team had been tasked with determining the cause of the fire, the number trucks destroyed and the losses incurred by owners of the vehicles.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack. Spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the militants were targeting fuel tankers belonging to NATO forces.
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