Pakistan militants torch 65 NATO supply trucks: police
AFP - Monday, December 8
PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AFP) - - More than 200 Taliban militants launched a pre-dawn raid Sunday on a NATO terminal in Pakistan, torching 65 trucks containing supplies for troops in Afghanistan, police said.
The militants surrounded the terminal outside the northwestern city of Peshawar and disarmed about a dozen security guards before dousing the trucks in petrol and setting them alight.
Police described the attack, in which one guard was shot and killed and two armoured vehicles were also destroyed, as the biggest of its kind so far.
"This is the first time the militants came in such large number," senior police officer Abdul Qadir Qamar told AFP, calling it a "coordinated and well-planned attack."
The insurgents, who had stolen the petrol from a nearby gas station, fled when police arrived at the scene, Qamar added.
One security official said they had struck as police were busy investigating Friday's huge bomb blast in Peshawar that killed 34 people and wounded 120 others.
"It was also a weekend and security was relatively relaxed because of Eid vacations," the official said. Pakistan celebrates the Muslim festival of Eid on Tuesday.
The trucks were loaded with supplies bound for Afghanistan, where NATO forces are battling a growing Taliban insurgency.
Taliban- and Al-Qaeda-linked militants have in the past attacked oil tankers and trucks on their way to Afghanistan.
Sunday's raid came less than a week after Taliban militants destroyed another dozen trucks in Peshawar containing supplies for NATO troops in Afghanistan, killing two people in the process.
Qamar said the number of guards at the terminal had been increased in the wake of that attack, but they were overwhelmed by the sheer number of militants.
"We are preparing a new strategy to prevent such incidents in future," he added.
Pakistan last month barred delivery of sealed containers and oil tankers through the Khyber Pass for a week after Taliban fighters in the rugged lawless area hijacked 15 trucks destined for Afghanistan and looted the vehicles.
NATO has around 50,000 troops in Afghanistan and the pass is a lifeline for the force. Pakistan's army chief vowed last month to keep the supply line to Afghanistan open, reaffirming support for the alliance's mission there.
Pakistan's tribal belt became a safe haven for hundreds of Taliban and Al-Qaeda extremists who fled Afghanistan after the US-led toppling of the hardline Taliban regime in Kabul in late 2001.
NATO said on Monday the earlier attack had not substantially affected the alliance's operations in Afghanistan, but that it was looking at alternative routes to the Khyber Pass.
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Pakistani employees inspect burned-out trucks at a NATO terminal outside the northwestern city of Peshawar on December 7. Taliban militants launched a pre-dawn raid on a NATO terminal in Pakistan on Sunday, torching 65 trucks carrying supplies for troops in Afghanistan and killing a guard, police said.
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