Pakistani Taliban Torch Stranded NATO Tankers, Again
October 7, 2010
(ChattahBox World News)—The standoff between the Pakistani government and NATO forces intent on delivering needed supplies to its forces in Afghanistan, is worsening. Yesterday, the Taliban launched its third assault on stranded NATO tankers, since the government closed off the main route to Afghanistan in retaliation for the death of three Pakistani soldiers. The attack on Wednesday, occurred in Quetta near the only remaining open border crossing into Afghanistan. Taliban fighters attacked the 40 flammable fuel tankers with rifles, causing a blazing inferno that burned for hours, destroying half of the tankers and killing one driver. Hoping to diffuse the volatile situation, Gen. David Petraeus and Anne Patterson, the ambassador to Pakistan, both issued strongly worded apologies to the Pakistani government.
Earlier in the week, the NATO secretary general issued a statement apologizing to the Pakistani government for the deaths and promising an investigation. But the government has held firm, refusing to reopen the Afghanistan supply routes. The result is the stranding of dozens of tankers vulnerable to insurgent attacks, while local police forces stand idly by.
The New York Times writes:
“In a sign that the government was continuing to distance itself from the attacks, the police chief in Quetta, Malik Muhammad Iqbal said it was not the responsibility of the government to provide security for the convoys. In the past few days, senior police officers have said the safety of the trucks lay with the fleet owners who had signed contracts with NATO.”
The United States government stepped up its public displays of contrition for the death of the Pakistani border soldiers, as the situation on the ground in Pakistan worsens by the hour.
“The statement was notable in that Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top commander, said, “We deeply regret this tragic loss of life and will continue to work with the Pakistan military and government to ensure this doesn’t happen again.”’
“An even more explicit apology was offered by the United States ambassador to Pakistan, Anne W. Patterson. “We extend our deepest apology to Pakistan and the families of the Frontier scouts who were killed and injured” Ms. Patterson said. “Pakistan’s brave security forces are our allies in a war that threatens both Pakistan and the U.S.”’
Despite the apologies, the Obama administration is not holding back from its unmanned drone attacks along the mountainous border region of North Waziristan, where Taliban fighters and al-Qaeda forces are entrenched.