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Dec 8th, 2008

160 NATO Supply Trucks Torched in Pakistan

Assault is biggest yet on vital military supply line to Afghanistan


NATO supply terminal attacked in Pakistan (MSNBC, Dec. 7, 2008) — NBC’s Ned Colt reports on militants attacking a NATO supply terminal where a security guard was killed and over 160 vehicles were burned. (02:03)

Dec. 7, 2008

PESHAWAR, Pakistan — Militants blasted their way into two transport terminals in Pakistan on Sunday and torched more than 160 vehicles destined for U.S.-led troops in Afghanistan, in the biggest assault yet on a vital military supply line, officials said.

The U.S. military said its losses in the raid near the northwestern city of Peshawar would have only a “minimal” impact on its operations against resurgent Taliban-led militants in Afghanistan.

However, the attack’s boldness will fuel concern that Taliban militants are tightening their hold around Peshawar and could choke the supply route through the famed Khyber Pass.

Up to 75 percent of supplies for Western forces in landlocked Afghanistan pass through Pakistan after being unloaded from ships at the Arabian sea port of Karachi. NATO is already seeking an alternative route through Central Asia.

Smoldering junkyard

The attack at the Portward Logistic Terminal reduced a section of the vast walled compound to a smoldering junkyard.

Terminal manager Kifayatullah Khan said armed men flattened the gate before dawn with a rocket-propelled grenade, shot dead a guard and set fire to a total of 106 vehicles, including about 70 Humvees.

An Associated Press reporter who visited the depot saw six rows of destroyed Humvees and military trucks parked close together, some of them on flatbed trailers, all of them gutted and twisted by the flames.

Khan said shipping documents showed they were destined for U.S. forces and the Western-trained Afghan National Army.

The attackers fled after a brief exchange of fire with police, who arrived about 40 minutes later, Khan said.

The nine other guards who were on duty but stood helplessly aside put the number of assailants at 300, Khan said, though police official Kashif Alam said there were only 30.

At the nearby Faisal depot, manager Shah Iran said 60 vehicles destined for Afghanistan as well as three Pakistani trucks were burned in a similar assault. …

Latest in a series of attacks

The attack was the latest in a series that have highlighted the vulnerability of the supply route to the spreading power of the Taliban and other Islamic militants in the border region.

Suspected insurgents also attacked the Faisal terminal last week and burned 12 trucks loaded with NATO supplies, including several Humvees. Two guards were shot dead. …

Peshawar has seen a surge in violence in recent weeks, including the slaying of an American working on a U.S.-funded aid project.

The city lies close to the lawless tribal regions along the Afghan border, where Osama bin Laden and other top al-Qaida leaders are believed to be hiding.

On Saturday, a car bomb detonated in a busy market area of the city, killing 29 people and injuring 100 more. The blast wrecked a Shiite Muslim mosque and a hotel, but the motive and culprits remained unclear.

The 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 attack, 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.


Security Developments in Iraq

Following are security developments in Iraq on Sunday, Dec. 7, 2008, as reported by Reuters.

MOSUL – Two members of the Yazidi religious minority were killed by gunmen in a shop in northern Mosul, 240 miles north of Baghdad, police said.

MOSUL – Nine people were wounded, including two policeman, when gunmen threw a grenade at a police patrol in central Mosul, police said.

BAQUBA – A bomb went off on Sunday, wounding 35 police and neighborhood patrolmen in Baquba, 40 miles north of Baghdad, police said. A police commander in Diyala province, Lieutenant Colonel Raghib al-Umairi, and the Baquba city mayor, Abdullah al-Hiyali, were among the wounded.

MOSUL – At least one civilian was seriously wounded when a bomb planted in parked car exploded in eastern Mosul, police said.

KIRKUK – Three policemen were killed in three separate roadside bomb attacks in Kirkuk on Sunday, police said. At least two police were wounded in the attacks. Kirkuk is 155 miles north of Baghdad.

BAGHDAD – U.S. forces captured a suspected member of the Iraqi militant group the Hezbollah brigade and two other suspects in a raid early Sunday in Baghdad’s northern Adhamiya district, the U.S. military said.

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