NATO officials today confirmed that 24 of their oil tankers were destroyed in the Samangan Province, when suspected Taliban insurgents detonated a bomb. Local sources said that the tankers, which were en route to Kabul, were travelling through the Northern Distribution Network (NDN). The vehicle convoy had halted in Samangan after crossing over from the Uzbek border. Latest reports confirmed that the fire is yet to be put-off.
Although attacks by Taliban on the NATO trucks are common, most of them have occurred along the Southern Distribution Network (SDN), which passes through Pakistan. The NDN is considered as a safer, but expensive alternative to the SDN. The oil tankers were carrying petroleum products from the Central Asian nations, and were on their way to the bases of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), when they were targeted.
An intelligence official informed the media that the explosion was caused by a single device, which was set up under one of the trucks in the convoy. As the tankers were parked close together, a large number of them caught fire during the resultant explosion. The attack occurred during early morning at about 2 am, reducing the risk of human casualties.
Sidiq Azizi, a local politician was quoted as saying that local fire-fighters spent many hours without success in trying to control the resultant fire. He said that there is a possibility that the insurgents could have used a magnetic bomb, which is very effective in targeting both moving and static vehicles. A local parliamentarian was killed in the region last week, when suspected insurgents belonging to Taliban conducted a suicide attack at a wedding party. The attack occurred only a few kilometres from the site of the latest attack.
Meanwhile, the NATO officials refused to confirm whether the fuel was destined for the ISAF bases. They claimed that the explosion was caused by an Improvised Explosive Device (IED), and further said that an investigation will be launched to ascertain the exact timeline of events.
Pakistan had re-opened the Southern Distribution Network (SDN) earlier this month, but the transport through the route hasn’t peaked yet due to technical and security issues. Many of the contractors are reported to be reluctant to use the route, as the Taliban had recently issued threats against using it.