Senators seek thorough probe into Kabul fire that killed 9 people
Senators on Sunday raised questions over recent fires in Kabul, Farah and Herat province that mainly targeted fuel imports, saying there are "some hands behind such incidents" that seek to harm the country’s economy.
The Ministry of Interior Affairs said that nine people were killed and 14 more were wounded in the major fire at a tanker truck station in the Qala-e-Murad Bek area north of Kabul along the key highway that connects the capital city with northern provinces.
At least 60 vehicles, including fuel tanker trucks as well as trucks carrying food and other goods, were completely damaged in the fire that started around 9:00 pm on Saturday.
The Chamber of Trade and Investment said an investigation into the incident has begun, but added that the use of a magnetic bomb is one of the possible reasons for the massive fire.
The chamber estimates the losses of the fire at around $20 million.
The Kabul fire was the fourth in less than three months, following a major fire at Herat customs office and two more at a border town in Farah that shares a border with Iran.
“Such incidents need a thorough probe to determine whether it was an enemy action,” said Mohammad Khan, a senator.
Senators said that one of the reasons can be a lack of attention by government officials in the proper management of the country’s border towns, ports and customs.
“A fire happened at Kabul gate. All these incidents must be probed thoroughly,” Senate Speaker Fazl Hadi Muslimyar said.
Following the major fire at the border town of Islam Qala in mid-February, the government vowed to make public its findings on the incident, particularly on how it happened. But senators said the report has not been made public so far.
“There is no one responsible. The culture of impunity has expanded more than in the past,” Deputy Senate Speaker Mohammad Alam Ezedyar said.
Eyewitnesses said the fire spread rapidly after it broke out as the fuel tankers were parked very close to each other.
“They exploded one after another in five seconds,” said Ghulam Nabi, a fuel truck owner who says his vehicle was burned in the fire.
Other tanker truck owners said they are fed up with the government checkpoints along their way to Kabul as they are stopped for several hours each time they reach the entrance gates of the capital city.
“We were allowed to move at 12:30 pm but we were stopped by the checkpoint. We are devastated,” said Najibullah, a truck owner.
“I was asked to give 300 Afs to move. Is it the government?” asked Ghulam Sakhi, owner of a fuel tanker.
Kabul governor Yaqub Haidari said that those who have stopped the vehicles and have made the parking where the fuel tankers were parked should be responsible.
“On what decision was this parking made?” he asked.