PESHAWAR, Dec 7: At least 150 trucks, loaded with supplies and military vehicles and other hardware for Nato forces in Afghanistan, were set on fire by militants who attacked two terminals on the city’s main Ring Road early on Sunday morning.
One security guard identified as Suleman Khan was killed in the attack which was followed by a heavy exchange of fire between the assailants and the guards. The exchange of fire continued for more than two hours.
This was the most severe assault so far on Nato supplies in the region. The two terminals were littered with burnt Humvees, cranes, military trucks and hardware.
Security guards said that over 200 heavily armed militants subdued them and started torching the parked convoy of vehicles and containers at Al-Faisal and Port World Logistics terminals.
Kifayatullah Jan, who looks after one of the terminals, said that about 100 Humvees and armed personnel carriers loaded on trucks had been damaged.
In all 106 loaded lorries and containers parked at the terminal were set ablaze.
Police sub-inspector Azeem Khan told Dawn that the attack had taken place after 2am.
“They fired rockets, hurled hand-grenades and then set on fire loaded trolleys and containers,” he said.
Over 41 trolleys were torched at Al-Faisal and 106 trucks and containers at Port World Logistic terminals. Thick smoke billowed from the burning containers, cranes and other vehicles. Fire brigade engines reached the place at about 9am.
Al-Faisal terminal was attacked also on Dec 1 when 22 loaded trucks, including two Humvees, were destroyed. The Ring Road is a major transit route for goods meant for ISAF forces fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Supplies for Nato forces are kept at terminals before their onward transportation to Afghanistan via the Torkham highway.
City Police Chief Safwat Ghayur told Dawn there had been some developments which could lead to progress in investigation.
“I can’t tell at this moment who the attackers were or from where they had come,” he said.
He said that a security plan was being prepared and there would be “an in-depth deployment” along the Ring Road.
Local people said that loud explosions rocked the area after the rocket and grenade attacks.
Muhammad Rafiq, a security guard, said that the attackers were more than 200 and they were also carrying cans of petrol.
“First, they disarmed us and then started firing rockets and throwing grenades on trucks. We were unable to face such a large number of armed men while police and militias reached the place when attackers had done the damage,” he said.
Militants have stepped up attacks on Nato supplies on the Peshawar-Torkham highway passing through the Khyber tribal region since US intensified missiles attacks in the North and South Waziristan.
Militants of Tahreek-i-Taliban Pakistan hijacked 13 loaded trucks, including two Humvees, from Jamrud on Nov 10. After the attack, the government started providing armed escorts to Nato supplies from Jamrud to the Torkham border town.