Heavily armed militants on Wednesday attacked trucks carrying supplies to North Altantic Treaty Organisation and US forces in Afghanistan, killing eight persons and gutting nearly 50 vehicles on the outskirts of the Pakistani capital.
Militants have repeatedly targeted trucks and tankers ferrying supplies to Afghanistan in the volatile northwestern part of Pakistan but this was the first time that such vehicles were attacked near Islamabad.
It was also one of the worst attacks on NATO supply vehicles. The attack was carried out at around midnight when the vehicles were parked at the Tarnol depot in the suburbs of Islamabad.
Ten to 12 attackers opened fire at the vehicles and then set them ablaze. At least 50 tankers and trucks, including several loaded with military vehicles, were reduced to a twisted mass of metal by a massive fire and several explosions.
Eight persons, including drivers, their helpers and local residents, were killed and eight others injured in the attack, police said. No arrests were made in connection with the incident, officials said.
Witnesses and police said the attackers were travelling on six motorcycles and two pick-up trucks and escaped after the brazen assault. No group claimed responsibility for the attack though similar assaults in the past have been blamed on the Pakistani Taliban.
Law enforcement agencies cordoned off the scene as bodies and the injured were taken to nearby hospitals.
Pakistan Interior Minister Rehman Malik ordered a magisterial inquiry into the incident, sources said.
Rawalpindi and Islamabad are located on the road to the northwestern city of Peshawar that is the main route used by the supply vehicles.
The bulk of supplies and equipment required by US-led foreign troops in Afghanistan are shipped through northwest Pakistan. In the past, hundreds of trucks and tankers have been destroyed in attacks by the Taliban in Peshawar.
Images: A man stands near burning vehicles, which were carrying supplies to foreign forces in Afghanistan, after the convoy was set ablaze in Sangjani, located in the outskirts of Islamabad early on Wednesday morning
Photograph: Adrees Latif / Reuters