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Sun Dec 7 19:01:21 MST 2008
Things don't seem to be going well for Washington:
THE NEW YORK TIMES
December 8, 2008
Militants in Pakistan Destroy NATO Trucks
By JANE PERLEZ
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — More than 100 trucks loaded with supplies for
American and allied forces in Afghanistan were destroyed Sunday by
militants in Peshawar, a Pakistani city that serves as an important
transit point for the Afghan war effort.
It was the third major attack by Taliban militants on NATO supplies
in Pakistan in less than a month, and served to expose the
vulnerability of the route from the port of Karachi through Peshawar
and over the border into Afghanistan. The United States relies on the
route for an overwhelming proportion of its supplies for the war in
The damaged trucks were loaded with American war matériel, including
Humvees, said Col. Greg Julian, a spokesman for United States forces
in Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital.
The militants overwhelmed the rudimentary security system at two lots
where the trucks were parked in the heart of Peshawar. They easily
disarmed security guards around 2:30 a.m., then threw grenades and
fired rockets at the loaded trucks. One guard was killed, The
Associated Press said.
“We were unable to challenge such a large number of armed men,” said
Muhammad Rafiq, a security guard. He estimated that 200 militants had
been involved in the attack.
Pakistani security forces apparently fired at the attackers. “There
was artillery and rapid exchange of fire,” said a retired police
official, Hidyatullah Arbab, who heard the firing from his home.
“Peshawar is becoming a battleground.”
Colonel Julian said the loss of equipment would have a minimal impact
on the overall war effort. “It’s a very insignificant loss in terms
of everything transported into Afghanistan,” he said.
But critics of the war effort in Afghanistan have argued that the
United States needs to act more urgently to shape the Afghan Army
into an effective fighting force. The loss of supplies to the Afghan
Army is a setback to that effort.
About 80 percent of supplies for the war in Afghanistan move from
Karachi east through Pakistan and on to Afghanistan. Peshawar is the
last staging point before the border about an hour’s journey, or 40
>From Peshawar, the Pakistani trucks loaded with the military supplies
go through the Khyber section of the Federally Administered Tribal
Areas. The Khyber area is almost totally controlled by factions of
the Taliban, and many civilian government officials no longer dare to
travel the road that the trucks use.
The Pakistani government said two weeks ago that it had beefed up
protection for the supply trucks along the route.
But the ease with which the militants destroyed the vehicles on
Sunday exposed the susceptibility of stationary equipment, even in
the center of a city that houses the 11th Corps of the Pakistani
Last week, militants attacked another parking area in Peshawar. About
12 trucks with NATO supplies were ruined.
Perhaps the most brazen attack came on Nov. 10, when about 60 Taliban
militants hijacked a convoy of trucks on the Khyber road in broad
The Pakistani government is eager to hold on to the trucking business
that supplies the war in Afghanistan. But the truck owners complain
that the government is impotent in the face of the Taliban. The
hijacking of the convoy last month was carried out by Taliban loyal
to Baitullah Mehsud, the head of the umbrella group called
After that episode, one trucker said the government had stood by, a
“silent spectator.” The Taliban had attacked and looted his trucks,
and killed his drivers even, he said.
American military officials have said that they are looking to supply
the Afghan war theater through Central Asia, which would diminish the
dependence on Pakistan.
Los Angeles, California
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