Dec 9, 2008

World - More NATO vehicles torched in Peshawar

Islamabad: About 100 vehicles destined for the U.S.-led NATO forces in Afghanistan were on Monday set ablaze by heavily armed pro-Taliban militants in Peshawar, in the second such attack in as many days.

The militants stormed the Bilal container terminal after opening fire at watchmen. They then lobbed grenades and torched container trucks and other cars, including Humvee armoured vehicles, said officials.

Witnesses said trucks containing supplies and heavy equipment were destroyed in the attack.

Some reports said the militants also used rockets during the strike. There were no reports of casualties in the incident. Senior Superintendent of Police Kashif Alam told reporters that fire tenders were called in to the control the ablaze.

No group claimed responsibility for the attack but authorities usually blame the local Taliban for such strikes.

The early morning raid on the container terminal came just a day after militants mounted the biggest assault on the vital military supply lines for the NATO troops, destroying over 160 vehicles in two storage facilities in the same region and killing three persons.

In a similar attack on December 1, two persons were killed and over two dozen trucks were damaged when militants attacked another depot. Peshawar has about 20 terminals that are used by trucks ferrying supplies to U.S. forces in Afghanistan. Following Sunday attack, authorities had suspended supplies to NATO forces through Peshawar for the second time in a month.

Militants regularly attack and hijack NATO supply vehicles on the route to Torkham, the main crossing point on the Afghan-Pakistan border just west of the Khyber Pass. The Pakistani and Afghan Taliban have often warned drivers not to ferry supplies for NATO forces.

During Sunday raid, over 100 militants armed with rockets and heavy weapons blasted through the gates of Al-Faisal depot and Portward Logistic Terminal and torched trucks, tankers loaded with fuel and Humvee armoured vehicles.

The militants fired up to 10 rockets during the attack and used petrol and kerosene to set the vehicles on fire. A watchman and two other persons were killed in the attack.

Officials said it was the biggest attack yet on supplies being sent through Pakistan to the U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

U.S.-led forces fighting the Taliban in land-locked Afghanistan receive most of their supplies via Pakistan.

The Pakistani Army has been engaged in a major offensive against militants in the tribal areas along the Afghan border since U.S.-backed forces toppled the Taliban regime in Kabul in 2001.

Last month, Pakistan stopped container trucks and oil tankers bound for the U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan after militants hijacked several vehicles, including Humvees, on the Pakistan-Afghanistan highway. — PTI

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