KANDAHAR, Afghanistan – Suspected Taliban (search) rebels set off a bomb next to a fuel tanker parked outside the main U.S. military base in southern Afghanistan (search) early Sunday, setting off a chain of large explosions that destroyed five tankers and injured three drivers, officials said.
The attack took place just after 3 a.m., while Pakistani and Afghan drivers waiting to deliver fuel to the U.S. base at Kandahar (search) airport were sleeping, said Gen. Muslim Ahmed, the local Afghan military commander. No American soldiers were injured.
One of the injured drivers, Sher Alam, told The Associated Press he was woken by the initial blast and ran for his life.
"I was sleeping at the time and suddenly I heard an explosion. When I woke up there was a huge fire engulfing the fuel tanker near mine. We all ran away and there were more explosions," said Alam, whose feet and hands were injured by flying debris.
Gen. Ahmed said American troops arrived shortly after the blasts to put out the fire. No arrests were made, but suspicion immediately fell on the insurgents
"The Taliban perpetrated this terrorist activity," the general said.
By midmorning Sunday, black smoke still billowed from the charred hulls of the tankers.
Taliban rebels have kept up a drumbeat of attacks, particularly in the south, but have failed to launch any major uprising in recent months. On Saturday, the top U.S. general in the country predicted they might try to pull off a "high-visibility attack" in an effort to reverse their waning fortunes.
But Lt. Gen. David Barno added that the future was against them, and predicted the insurgency would be nearly completely destroyed within 12 months.
Tight security measures mean long waits for drivers delivering fuel to U.S. bases in Afghanistan. Alam said he had been sleeping in his truck for 10 days waiting his turn to enter the base.
In other violence, six Afghan soldiers were injured Sunday when a landmine went off as they traveled in central Zabul province, said local official Haji Wazir Mohammed.
On Saturday, police in southern Helmand province came upon a group of Taliban suspects who had ambushed them previously, killing one rebel and seizing several vehicles, said Ghulam Mohayudin, an official in the governor's office.