For a second night running, Pakistani Taliban torched dozens of containers full of supplies meant for Western forces in Afghanistan, in a brazen raid on the outskirts of Peshawar, officials and witnesses said.
Having set ablaze close to 100 trucks, some carrying military vehicles, in the early hours of Sunday, the militants struck again on Monday, this time hitting a container terminal 2 km away from the first attack.
“The militants came just past midnight, firing in the air, sprinkled petrol on containers and then set them on fire,” said Mohammad Zaman, a security guard at the terminal on the Peshawar ring road.
“They told us they would not harm us, but they asked us not to work for the Americans.” Close to 50 containers were destroyed.
Militants also fired rockets at two trucks carrying supplies for NATO forces as they drove along the ring road overnight.
The route from Peshawar through the Khyber Pass to the border town of Torkham is the most important supply line for United States and NATO forces fighting a Taliban insurgency in landlocked Afghanistan.
A spate of attacks has raised concerns both about the security Pakistan provides to the truck convoys and the spread of militancy to the Khyber tribal region and the gates of Peshawar, the most important city in the northwest.
A week ago, militants destroyed 22 trucks carrying food supplies.
It was unclear how many militants took part in Monday’s attack.
Security guards the previous night said they were overrun by around 200 militants, who shouted “Allah-o-Akbar” (God is Great) and “Down with America” as they broke into the truck terminal.
They said the militants fired rockets and hurled grenades, and one guard was killed in a shoot-out between the raiding party and police. Taliban chief: More fighting to come
The Taliban’s fugitive leader, Mullah Omar, promised more violence over the next year even as the United States plans to deploy thousands more troops in hopes of turning around the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan.
Omar said the increase in troops means that battles would “flare up” everywhere.