Militants destroy 12 NATO trucks in Pakistan

Taliban militants in Pakistan on Saturday destroyed 12 parked trucks laden with supplies for NATO forces in neighbouring Afghanistan during a heavy battle with police, an official said.

Fighters armed with rockets and petrol bombs besieged the Farhad terminal on the edge of the northwest city Peshawar, police said, the latest in a series of strikes targeting goods bound for foreign forces across the border.

“There were no casualties in the attack, but the fire gutted 12 trucks loaded with NATO supplies,” local police station chief Fazal Wahid told AFP.

“We had to call reinforcements from other police stations as Taliban outnumbered the local force and were heavily armed,” Wahid said.

The bulk of supplies and equipment required by NATO and US-led forces battling a Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan are shipped through Pakistan, and the fabled Khyber pass through the northwest is the principal land route.

The attack came one day after a suicide bomber blew himself up at a packed mosque during prayers in Jamrud, near Peshawar, leaving around 50 dead and scores wounded in one of the bloodiest recent attacks in the nation.

US President Barack Obama put Pakistan at the centre of the fight against Al-Qaeda on Friday.

Obama said Al-Qaeda and extremist allies were “a cancer that risks killing Pakistan from within” and warned Pakistan must “demonstrate its commitment” to eliminating extremists on its soil.

In Pakistan’s lawless tribal areas, security forces launched a search operation against Taliban militants in Mohmand district and pounded militant positions at several places, a security official told AFP.

Local administration official Syed Ahmed Jan said a night curfew was imposed in Mohmand before the launch of the ground operation, in which no casualties have yet been reported.

US officials say northwest Pakistan has degenerated into a safe haven for Al-Qaeda and Taliban militants who fled the 2001 US-led invasion of Afghanistan and have regrouped to launch attacks on foreign troops across the border.

Extremists opposed to the Pakistani government’s decision to side with the United States in its “war on terror” have carried out a series of bombings and other attacks that have killed nearly 1,700 people in less than two years.