I wasn't in the area at the time, but yesterday the bad guys hit another fuel convoy out on the Jalalabad road. Blogger Tim Lynch gives a good recap (with pictures) here.*
*Tim always has excellent and timely pictures of any significant events in the area around Jalalabad. Makes me wonder how he has time for his day job.
One of the things Tim highlights is the fact that this was a larger action than is typical for that stretch of road. In the past, the standard method of attacking the fuel trucks is for three or four insurgents to fire a few rounds and the occasional RPG in an attempt to detonate one of the tankers. After running out of ammo, or getting lucky, they generally boogie back over the mountains from whence they came.
In this instance, however, the bad guys seemed to have been more deliberate. They came with a larger force than usual, and stayed long enough to light up at least four of the tankers. As Tim points out, that perhaps wasn't really wise, since they lingered long enough to be engaged by three different elements, the tankers' own PSC convoy escorts, the ANP (better late than never) and a pair of Kiowa scout choppers out of JAF. End result, four burned tankers and a very bad day for an undetermined number of bad guys.
Perhaps an isolated incident, or maybe a harbinger of things to come. Tim acknowledges that these limited attacks don't really stand a chance of closing the main east-west artery between Kabul and Pakistan, but maybe the scumbags are getting closer to their goal. They're certainly getting bolder in their tactics and the location of the attack (very close to Jalalabad) possibly indicates that they unconcerned about a response. Plus, it's worth remembering that the guys who died yesterday almost certainly weren't individuals acting alone. Someone sent them there, presumably someone with enough saavy to realize that they weren't coming back. Sounds to me like their probing the route security and are willing to sacrifice a few hotheads to do it.
Incidentally, I have no idea who the outfit is that Tim refers to as Blue Compass. They may be a local, unlicensed PSC operating in a limited area, or he may simply be trying to shield the identities of the operators who have that duty. "Blue Compass" sounds suspiciously like an amalgam of the names of two prominent PSCs, so I suspect it's the latter.