If nothing else, as this article notes, it is an indication that “the insurgents are expanding their reach,” a direct product of Pakistan’s long-running double game.
SHIKARPUR, Pakistan – Suspected militants in southern Pakistan set ablaze more than two dozen tankers carrying fuel for foreign troops in Afghanistan on Friday, highlighting the vulnerability of the U.S.-led mission a day after Pakistan closed a major border crossing.
The Pakistani government shut the Torkham border in the northwest in apparent protest at a NATO helicopter incursion that killed three of its soldiers on the border. The events raised tensions between Pakistan and the United States, which have a close but often troubled alliance in the fight against militants.
The convoy of tankers attacked Friday was likely headed to a second crossing in southwest Pakistan that was not closed. It was not clear if the vehicles had been rerouted because of the closure at Torkham.
Around 80 percent of the fuel, spare parts, clothing and other non-lethal supplies for foreign forces in landlocked Afghanistan travel through Pakistan after arriving in the southern Arabian sea port of Karachi. The alliance has other supply routes to Afghanistan, but the Pakistani ones are the cheapest and most convenient.
Islamist militants occasionally attack NATO supply tankers in Pakistan, mostly in the northwest where their influence is stronger. Thursday’s strike was in Sindh province, far from the border, and might be taken as a sign that the insurgents are expanding their reach.
Around 10 gunmen attacked the vehicles when they were parked at an ordinary truck stop on the edge of Shikarpur town shortly after midnight. They forced the drivers and other people there to flee before setting the fires, said police officer Abdul Hamid Khoso. No one was wounded or killed.
The trucks were alight several hours after the attack, according to an Associated Press photographer at the scene. […]
Pakistani security forces provide guards for the trucks and tankers in the northwest, but generally do not do so in south and central Pakistan, where attacks are rare. Pakistani security officials had warned after two alleged NATO helicopter incursions last weekend that they would stop providing protection to NATO convoys if it happened again….