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Saturday, May 21, 2011

NATO fuel tanker explodes in Pakistan, killing 15

PESHAWAR, Pakistan — Militants in northwest Pakistan blew up a tanker carrying oil for NATO forces in Afghanistan on Saturday, and a secondary explosion killed 15 people as a group gathered to try to siphon off some of its fuel. Another bombing damaged 14 NATO tankers in a nearby border town, but no one was hurt.

A Pakistani Taliban group claimed responsibility for both attacks, underscoring the threat to vehicles that carry non-lethal supplies for Western troops in Afghanistan through Pakistan — a threat that could grow more acute in the wake of the U.S. killing of Osama bin Laden in northwest Pakistan.

The explosions coincided with the publication of leaked U.S. diplomatic cables indicating that U.S. Special Forces provided intelligence and other assistance to the Pakistani army as it fought Taliban forces in 2009. It was the latest evidence that the U.S. troops did more than just train Pakistanis, as was publicly claimed.

The explosions occurred overnight in Pakistan's Khyber tribal region, an area that numerous trucks carrying supplies for U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan must traverse, local administrator Abdul Nabi Khan said.

In the Landi Kotal area of Khyber, a tanker caught fire after a bomb blast. Once it seemed the blaze was controlled, people tried to take the tanker's fuel. Another blast then occurred, killing 15 people and wounding one, Khan said.

The 14 tankers damaged in the other bombing were parked at Torkham, a town along the Pakistan-Afghan border. Torkham has witnessed many attacks on the U.S.-NATO supply line.

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