San Francisco Chronicle
Afghanistan tanker blaze kills at least 7
A searing blaze that roared through dozens of fuel tankers on the northern edge of the Afghan capital of Kabul killed at least seven people and injured 14 others, the Interior Ministry said Sunday.
Investigators were combing through the tankers that lay in smoldering ruins after flames that lit up the area late Saturday, said ministry spokesman Tariq Arian.
There was no immediate indication of whether it was an accident or sabotage. It came on the same day the U.S. and NATO officially began the final phase of a troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, ending a nearly 20year military engagement.
All 2,500 to 3,500 American soldiers and about 7,000 NATO allied forces are to be out of Afghanistan at the latest by Sept. 11, the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks in the United States that first brought them into the country.
Arian said the fire began when a spark set a fuel tanker ablaze. Nearby tankers were quickly engulfed, sending giant flames and plumes of smoke into the night sky. The fire spread to several homes and a nearby gas station. Several structures were destroyed and electricity to much of Kabul, which usually has only sporadic power, was knocked out.
Truck drivers Sunday blocked the road leading to the area demanding the government provide compensation. The injured were being treated mostly for burns in local hospitals.
One driver, Haji Mir, said the explosion was deafening as trucks were lined up to enter the city. He estimated that as many as 100 trucks may have burned.