Pakistan to re-open Khyber to supply Western forces

Other News Materials 16 November 2008 14:40 (UTC +04:00)

Pakistan will reopen a main supply route to Western forces in Afghanistan on Monday, a week after militants hijacked more than a dozen trucks on the road through the Khyber Pass, a senior official said on Sunday.

Most supplies, including fuel, for U.S. and NATO forces in landlocked Afghanistan are trucked through Pakistan, much of it through the fabled pass that lies between the northwestern city of Peshawar and the border town of Torkham, Reuters reported.

Over the course of last week, aside from the hijacking, militants in Peshawar carried out a suicide bomb attack, shot dead an American aid worker and his driver, kidnapped an Iranian diplomat and killed his police bodyguard, and shot and wounded a Japanese and an Afghan journalist working with foreign media.

Pakistan's support is seen as vital to the West's efforts to defeat al Qaeda globally and the Taliban in Afghanistan.

The unending violence has heightened fears that the nuclear-armed nation could slide into chaos unless its 8-month-old civilian government, also battling an economic crisis, and the army can turn the tide against the Islamist militants.

Pakistani authorities in the tribal region of Khyber blocked the main road from Peshawar through the pass to the border at Torkham soon after militants hijacked 13 trucks laden with Western military supplies on November 10.

A senior government administrator in Khyber, one of Pakistan's seven semi-autonomous tribal regions, told Reuters that truck convoys would start rolling again with armed escorts.

"Now they will be escorted by security personnel and vehicles," Fida Mohammad Bangash, the deputy political agent for Khyber, told Reuters.