PESHAWAR, Nov 20: Unidentified armed men torched 10 oil tankers, supplying fuel to Nato Forces in Afghanistan, at a workshop on Ring Road here on Saturday morning, police said.
They said that 24 other tankers, parked in the workshop at Hazarkhwani Chowk on Ring Road in the limits of Yakatoot police station, were partially damaged.
Police also recovered an improvised explosive device, planted inside the workshop. The personnel of bomb disposal unit defused the explosive device. The explosive weighed about two and a half kilogram, they added.
They said that 45 truck and tankers were parked in the workshop. Ten of them gutted completely while 24 others were partially damaged, they said. The attackers set tyres of vehicles on fire and left the area, they added.
An official of the city fire station said that at least five fire tenders took part in the rescue operation and put out the fire.
Saleem Khan, a security guard of the workshop, said that at least 18 men armed with pistols entered the workshop at 2:10am, sprinkled petrol on the tankers and torched them. “When I tried to stop them they torn up my clothes and slapped me,” he said.
He said that he brought the Holy Quran and requested the armed men to shun the idea of torching the vehicles but they did not listen to him. “I was alone and could not timely inform police and owners of the workshop,” he added.
Workers at the nearby workshops, however, said that they did not hear fire shots. They said that they saw that some people were talking there. “We saw that thick clouds of smoke started billowing out of the workshop at night,” they added.
Following the incident local police conducted search operation in different localities and arrested at least 30 persons. Most of the detained persons belonged to Bajaur, Waziristan, Khyber Agency agencies and Frontier Region of Peshawar.
A resident of Jabba Suhail alleged that police were knocking doors of houses in the area and picking up people in vans to Yakatoot police station. Most of the detained people, he said, were daily wagers and small time vendors.
The station house officer of local police station, Bashir Dad Khan, when contacted, said that the workshop belonged to several people and one of them was Jamil Khan.
The police, he claimed, had reached the spot soon after getting information about the incident but the attackers had already managed to escape. He said that there was contradiction in statement of the security guard, who had been taken into custody for initial interrogation.
He said the attackers did not seem militants as they usually carried such attempts by firing in the air with automatic weapons. “But in this incident no shot was fired,” he said.The SHO said that militants never depended on pistols but usually carried heavy weapons so that they could counter law enforcement agencies effectively. “We used sniffer dogs at different times but all the dogs went in the same direction,” the official said.
He said that the attackers had come to the workshop on foot but they had used a vehicle for coming to the area which meant that they had come from somewhere else.
He said that some suspected persons were arrested and they were under interrogation. “We have talked to most of the people and they seem to be innocent. They will be released soon,” he said.
The SHO said that the attackers seemed untrained as they had not used the explosives. “Had they knowledge about it they would have exploded it,” he added.