PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AP) – Pakistan closed a main road used to ferry supplies to U.S. and allied troops in Afghanistan on Tuesday after launching a fresh offensive against militants in the area.
The road through the Khyber Pass in the northwest of the country has come under increasing attacks by militants in recent months, showing their growing grip on the region.
Western troops fighting Taliban insurgents in landlocked Afghanistan rely on the winding, mountainous route for up to 75 percent of their fuel, food and other logistical goods, which arrive in Pakistan via the port city of Karachi.
Fazal Mehmood, a civilian administrator in Khyber, said the army launched an offensive against insurgents there Tuesday morning after they ignored a deadline to surrender. “Because of these operations, supplies have been suspended to Afghanistan and vice versa,” he told The Associated Press. He said it was impossible to say how long the suspension would last.
The road has been temporarily closed to traffic several times this year for security reasons. Militants have torched hundreds of trucks carrying supplies over the last two months.
NATO says it is investigating other possible supply routes to Afghanistan, such as through central Asian states to its north. The alliance and U.S. officials insist the escalating attacks on the Khyber are not affecting operations in the country.