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Taliban threatens to attack Afghanistan-bound NATO vehicles

world Updated: Jul 04, 2012 13:27 IST
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The outlawed Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan has threatened to attack Afghanistan-bound NATO vehicles after Islamabad ended a seven-month blockade of supply routes following a US apology for a cross-border attack that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.

After Pakistan's Defence Committee of the Cabinet decided on Tuesday to reopen the supply lines, Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan said his group’s fighters would attack NATO vehicles passing through the country.

The TTP had made all arrangements for attacking NATO trucks and oil tankers in Pakistan, he said.

"They would see how our fighters attack them (NATO vehicles) while passing through the country. We will not allow Pakistan's routes to be used for the supply of lethal arms that could later be used against the people of Afghanistan," Ehsan was quoted as saying by The News daily.

"Afghans are our brothers and we would not allow the US to take their supplies through Pakistan to kill innocent people," he warned.

While announcing the government's decision to reopen the supply routes, Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira said last night that Pakistan will not allow any lethal cargo to be transported through its territory.

An exception will be made only for lethal equipment to be provided to the Afghan national security forces, he said.

Ehsan said the Taliban were "were shocked to hear that Pakistan has opened the NATO supply lines".

He claimed the closure of the routes was “a drama staged by the Pakistani rulers to get maximum benefit from the US. Pakistani rulers have no love (for) the country and the people."

"They are US slaves and wanted to enslave the entire Pakistani nation. But we are here to create hurdles for NATO supplies passing through Pakistan," Ehsan said.

The Taliban spokesman further said the time had come for religious and political parties to come forward and stop NATO supplies passing through Pakistan. Some religious and political parties had opposed the resumption of NATO supplies through Pakistan just to get public support, he claimed.

In a related development, Mir Mohammad Yousuf Shahwani, head of the largest oil tanker owners association in Pakistan, welcomed the reopening of the supply lines but urged authorities to provide security to vehicles ferrying NATO supplies.

The vehicle owners need security because the Taliban had killed dozens of drivers and torched hundreds of tankers, he said.

All Pakistan Oil Tanker Association president Shakirullah Afridi said contractors had asked them to prepare their vehicles by July 7 for ferrying fuel from the port city of Karachi to Afghanistan.

He said he had refused to resume transporting NATO supplies till fees are increased and security is provided to drivers, helpers and vehicles.

Pakistan had closed the supply routes in November last year after a NATO air strike killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton apologised for the death of the soldiers during a phone call to Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, meeting a key Pakistani condition for reopening the routes.