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Militants torch NATO trucks in Pakistan: official

world Updated: Feb 05, 2009 01:31 IST

AFP
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Taliban rebels torched 10 trucks laden with supplies for NATO troops after closing a key route into Afghanistan by blowing up a bridge in northwest Pakistan, officials said on Wednesday.

"Militants sprinkled oil and then fired rockets at a terminal in the border town of Landi Kotal" late Tuesday, said local government official Rahat Gul.

The attack triggered a blaze that gutted eight containers mounted on lorries and badly damaged two others, he said.

The vehicles had been left stranded after militants early on Tuesday blew up the bridge, suspending traffic between Peshawar and the Torkham border crossing into Afghanistan across the famed Khyber Pass.

Before the attack on the NATO vehicles, militants launched a rocket attack on a camp of paramilitary soldiers near the terminal.

The troops retaliated and exchanges of fire continued for about an hour, a security official said. The militants fled into the mountains, he added.

Gul said efforts were underway to reopen the road to all traffic.

The road is open for light traffic and is expected to reopen for trucks and other heavy vehicles later in the day.

"We hope to resume heavy traffic in a few hours," Gul said.

NATO and US-led forces in Afghanistan are hugely dependent on Pakistan for their supplies and equipment, with an estimated 80 per cent of their gear transported by land from the neighbouring country.

The main land route into Afghanistan, where international forces are battling a Taliban insurgency, passes through Pakistan's lawless Khyber tribal district.

Militants in the rugged tribal area have staged spectacular attacks in recent months on NATO supply depots outside Peshawar, torching hundreds of vehicles and containers destined for foreign troops in Afghanistan.