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When trucks fly in air like dry grass blades

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Dhoke Paracha inferno catches Capital police off guards

By Vidya Rana

ISLAMABAD: Quite surprisingly, the Capital police and the city administration were unaware of the existence of a terminal of trucks for NATO supplies, which were attacked on Tuesday night by militants killing seven and injuring four persons.

In this terminal at Dhoke Paracha on GT Road, at least 80 NATO vehicles were loaded on 60 Pakistani trucks and they are not visible from the main road.

“Police did not know that NATO supplies are arriving at this place which is why we could not take appropriate measures. The temporary terminal was set up just six days ago,” Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) Bani Amin told Daily Times.

Deputy Commissioner Amir Ali was also found unaware of the presence of huge number of sensitive supplies in a populated area of Dhoke Paracha, which is only 10-minute drive away from local police station.

“A judicial inquiry by Additional Deputy Commissioner Revenue has been ordered to determine as to why the local administration was unaware of this activity,” he said.

According to various sources including truck drivers, the managers of NATO supplies operations have introduced a unique mechanism of ‘mobile terminals’ where supplies are not stocked at one particular place. Off-loading of supplies from trucks coming from Karachi and up-loading on other vehicles destined for Afghanistan take place simultaneously, they said.

“Generally, the process of off-loading and up-loading takes place simultaneously. But this time, hundreds of vehicles loaded with heavy machinery for NATO forces were stuck at this terminal. On the other hand, vehicles meant to take the supplies to Afghanistan were not anywhere in sight.

The management started off-loading and up-loading process only hours before the attack,” said driver Muhammad Bashir, who has been trucking for NATO for four years.

Imranul Haqe, another driver, standing by his burnt vehicles, told Daily Times that they take instructions from invisible managers through a middle-man to bring the supplies at a marked area.

“We only truck the supplies from Karachi Port to the marked area then trucks from Afghanistan take over the process. We have also been transporting goods to mobile terminals located between Texila, Hassan Abdal and Hattar industrial area,” he said. An eyewitness, Ghffar Khan from Khoshab, said that he saw over a dozen men sitting in a circle. Giving an eye-witness account of the brazen attack by militants, driver Ghaffar Khan said: “I saw over a dozen men sitting in a circle and thought they are fellow drivers and helpers just killing time. When I along with my friend passed by them, we saw all of them wearing Shalwar Qameez and carrying black backpacks. We went by pretending we had not seen anything. Meanwhile, we heard someone saying in a low voice but hurriedly: ‘Waqas don’t fire, just do your work’. As we reached a bit further, they all dispersed in various groups. Some started scattered firing and some were seen sprinkling petrol on trucks and then setting them on fire.”

Bashir, who got injured in the attack, said he was sleeping when he heard gunshots. “We left our truck and ran for the shelter thinking our trucks will remain safe being at a considerable distance from where other trucks were set on fire. I came back after five minutes and when I tried to drive my truck away, a bullet hit me in the leg. It was like an action movie as huge trucks were flying in the air like dry blades of grass,” he said.\06\10\story_10-6-2010_pg11_1

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