Roaring Tanker Fire Kills 7, Injures 14 in Afghan Capital

KABUL, Afghanistan -
Firefighters work to extinguish burning fuel tankers in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, May 2, 2021.  (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)

A searing blaze that roared through dozens of fuel tankers on the northern edge of the Afghan capital of Kabul killed seven people and injured 14 others, the Interior Ministry said Sunday.

Investigators were combing through the tankers that lay in smoldering ruins and a gas station caught in the 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 withdrawal from Afghanistan, ending a nearly 20-year military engagement.

All 2,500-3,500 American soldiers and about 7,000 NATO allied forces will 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 in the northern edge of the city engulfed 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.

Firefighters arrived at the scene but their capacity is limited and it took hours to bring the blaze under control. On Sunday morning, flames still flickered in the ruins.