Trucks torched at Pakistan terminal used for NATO (UPDATED)
Suspected militants attacked a Pakistan transport terminal used to supply NATO and U.S. troops in Afghanistan, killing a guard and burning 106 vehicles on Sunday, AP reported.
The assault was the boldest yet on trucks carrying critical supplies to foreign troops in Afghanistan, feeding concern that Taliban militants could cut or seriously disrupt the route through the famed Khyber Pass.
Up to 75 percent of the supplies for Western forces in the landlocked country pass through Pakistan after being unloaded from ships at the Arabian sea port of Karachi.
About 30 assailants armed with guns and rockets attacked the Portward Logistic Terminal near the city of Peshawar before dawn Sunday, police official Kashif Alam said.
A guard at the terminal was killed in the attack and fire swept through the parked vehicles. Alam said 62 vehicles were destroyed.
But terminal manager Kifayatullah Khan said 106 vehicles were destroyed, including 62 that were carrying Humvees. The other torched trucks were carrying sealed shipping containers or other vehicles, including fire engines and dump trucks, Khan said.
He said his terminal handled only trucks carrying military supplies for Afghanistan.
A series of recent attacks on trucks between Peshawar and the Afghan border has highlighted the route's vulnerability to the spreading power of Taliban-led militants in the border region.
Last week, suspected insurgents attacked another terminal near Peshawar and burned 12 trucks loaded with NATO supplies, including several Humvees. Two guards were shot dead.
NATO and U.S. officials have said that losses along the supply route are not affecting their operations in the Afghanistan. Still, NATO is seeking to open alternative routes through Central Asia.
Rising violence and instability in Pakistan's northwest coincides with serious tensions with its eastern neighbor India in the wake of recent terrorist attacks in Mumbai.
New Delhi blames the last month's attacks, which killed 171 people, on an Islamic militant group fighting Indian rule in the disputed Kashmir region, heightening tension between the nuclear-armed neighbors that could distract Pakistan from its role in helping the U.S. fight terrorism.