10/07/2010, 00.00
PAKISTAN
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Nowshera, another 50 NATO trucks burn. The U.S. apologizes to Pakistan

by Jibran Khan
The assailants chanted religious songs and shouting for jihad against the United States. A driver died in the attack. The tanker trucks were parked for days after the Pakistani army decision to the border with Afghanistan. The police asks for an agreement with the provincial government for the control and security of convoys.

Islamabad (AsiaNews) - At least NATO 50 fuel tankers bound for Afghanistan have been burning for hours in Nowshera, the northwest of the country. Flames gradually spread among the vehicles after an attack by militant jihadists before midnight. One of the drivers was killed and his body has been transported to the Bolan Medical College Teaching Hospital.

The drivers were able to save 25 trucks by removing them from the path of the inferno. The trucks were parked at a border terminal for three days and had become an easy prey. "Those who attacked us - a witness tells AsiaNews – were singing religious songs and shouting slogans for jihad against the United States".

For a weeks now arson attacks against trucks to Afghanistan have increased in frequency. This is due to a border block wanted by Islamabad after a U.S. drone in Pakistan overshot the frontier killing two soldiers and injuring another seriously.

Shortly before the attack last night, the U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Anne Woods Patterson, officially apologized for the incursion of NATO forces into Pakistani territory. NATO command has insisted that despite the attacks and the blockade of the border, fuel supplies to international troops in Afghanistan were not affected. But local observers point out that the excuses are an attempt to save American supply lines. About 70% of the needs of soldiers and 40% of fuel  pass through Pakistan to Afghanistan.

Pakistani police has rejected all responsibility over the attacks. Malik Muhammad Iqbal, the provincial police chief, said that "NATO has never asked the police to ensure security of supply lines, which is guaranteed by private firms, which earn millions of rupees for this."

He suggested that "NATO should formalize an agreement with the provincial government for the safety of convoys."

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