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Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Threat to NATO supplies and Baluchistan game plan

At least 15 oil tankers, trailers and containers caught fire in Chaman on Sunday night after a blast in a vehicle carrying supplies for Nato forces in Afghanistan.

Hundreds of vehicles have been stuck in the border town over the past two days because of suspension of traffic between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

According to sources, the powerful explosion took place in an old tanker parked near the Chaman bypass. The tanker caught fire which spread and engulfed other vehicles.

“Flames of the fire can be seen from miles. About 15 vehicles caught fire after the powerful explosion in a tanker,” official sources said, adding that efforts were under way to save other vehicles.

A police official said heavy gunfire was heard in the parking area before the blast.

Police sources said the explosion might have been caused by a bomb placed under the tanker carrying fuel.

Fire-tenders could not control the blaze till late in the night.

According to the police sources, an earlier attempt to blow up an oil tanker had been foiled by defusing a bomb.

Meanwhile, movement of goods between the two countries remained suspended with vehicles stranded on both sides of the border.

Negotiations between Pakistani border authorities and Afghan traders provided no result because Frontier Corps officials refused to allow trucks carrying fresh fruit and other goods into Pakistan without proper inspection.

Sources said the negotiations continued for two hours.

FC officials said that in view of the possible illegal movement of weapons, drugs and people they could not allow trucks into Pakistan without proper checks.

On April 4, authorities in Quetta had found 50 bodies and 60 unconscious Afghans crammed in a container.

Afghan traders said that trucks carrying fresh fruit should be exempted from checking.

The sources said that Afghan border officials had not contacted Pakistani officials in Chaman to discuss the issue.

Afghan officials, in the meanwhile, have stopped entry of all kinds of vehicles from Pakistan.

“Around 500 trucks and trailers loaded with Nato supplies are waiting in Chaman for the opening of the border,” the sources said.

Transit goods could not be loaded onto trucks at the Chaman railway station because of the border closure.

A large number of trucks are waiting for the opening of border on the Afghan side in Spin Buldak.

The Chaman Chamber of Commerce and Industry has expressed concern over the situation and called upon the Pakistani and Afghan officials to take urgent steps to resolve the issue.

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