15 killed in Nato tanker blast: Pakistan official

A tanker carrying oil for Nato forces in Afghanistan exploded Saturday in northwestern Pakistan as people tried to siphon off some of its fuel, and 15 were killed, an official said. Separately, 14 Nsto tankers were damaged in a bombing at a nearby border town, but no one was hurt.

The incidents underscored the dangers linked to the vehicles that carry non-lethal supplies for Western troops in Afghanistan through Pakistan. Such convoys frequently face bombings and other attacks by Taliban and other militants, as well as ordinary criminals, and many Pakistani civilians get hurt as a result.

Both incidents occurred early in the day in Pakistan's Khyber tribal region, an area where numerous trucks carrying supplies for U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan must traverse, local administrator Abdul Nabi Khan said.

In the Landi Kotal area of Khyber, a tanker first caught fire. After it appeared the blaze was under control, people tried to take the tanker's fuel. Then the blast occurred, killing 15 people and wounding at least one, Khan said.

The 14 tankers damaged in the bombing were parked at Torkham, a town along the Pakistan-Afghan border. Torkham has witnessed many attacks on the US-NATO supply line.

US and Nato commanders insist that the attacks in Pakistan barely affect their operations. But in recent years, the militaries have tried to reduce their dependence on Pakistan routes, increasingly using roads running through Central Asian countries and relying on supplies to be flown in.

 

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