Pakistan militants torch Afghan supplies

PESHAWAR, Pakistan Sun Apr 12, 2009 3:23am EDT

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PESHAWAR, Pakistan (Reuters) - Taliban militants set fire on Sunday to 10 container trucks carrying supplies to Western forces in Afghanistan in a pre-dawn attack near the Pakistani city of Peshawar, police said.

Islamist militants stepped up attacks on supplies trucked through Pakistan into land-locked Afghanistan last year, exposing the vulnerability of a vital transport link for U.S. and other foreign troops battling the Taliban.

The attacks have also highlighted the Pakistani government's loss of control to the Taliban of a growing part of the northwest.

The attackers on Sunday drove unopposed to two transport depots on the outskirts of Peshawar, capital of North West Frontier Province, near the Afghan border.

"They first disarmed the terminal guards and then threw petrol bombs," said police officer Waris Khan.

As the militants were withdrawing, police turned up and there was a brief exchange of fire in which two truck drivers were wounded, he said.

Khan said the trucks were taking cement to Afghanistan.

The route from Peshawar up to the Afghan border through the Khyber Pass is the most important of two routes through Pakistan.

Because of the increase in militant attacks, the United States has been trying to find new supply routes.

The United States said in March it expected soon to finalize an agreement with Tajikistan that would allow the transit of non-lethal supplies to Afghanistan.

(Reporting Faris Ali; Writing by Kamran Haider; Editing by Robert Birsel)

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