PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AP) – Militants attacked a terminal used by vehicles ferrying supplies to U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan early Saturday, the latest in a string of strikes on the critical and increasingly perilous supply route that snakes through northwest Pakistan.
The raiders torched 11 trucks along the outskirts of Peshawar, the main city in the region that borders the lawless, militant-plagued tribal belt and is a key stop for vehicles traversing the famed Khyber Pass.
The assault happened even though Pakistani authorities sent paramilitary troops to the terminals where trucks gather in the Peshawar area. The attackers threw explosives and set the trucks ablaze, gutting them, said police officials Mohammad Yousuf and Shafiullah Khan.
Up to 75 percent of the supplies for Western forces in landlocked Afghanistan pass through Pakistan after being unloaded at the port city of Karachi. NATO says it is investigating other routes, but it and U.S. officials insist the escalating attacks on the Khyber route are not affecting their operations.
Attacks on terminals earlier in the week burned more than 200 vehicles and trailers, including about 70 Humvees, officials said.
Elsewhere in the volatile northwest Saturday, officials said Taliban militants killed two Afghan men they accused of being U.S. spies, while clashes and a mortar shell killed eight people, including two children.
Officials, acting on tips from residents, found the Afghan men’s bodies, one with his throat slit, the other with multiple bullet wounds, in Miran Shah, the main town in North Waziristan tribal region, police official Sakhi-ur-Rehman said.
A letter found nearby alleged the men gave information that aided the U.S. in launching missile strikes on mil in the area. The letter claimed that a CD containing their alleged confession is forthcoming, Rehman said.
The U.S. is suspected of firing more than 30 missiles into northwestern Pakistan since August. Pakistan consistently protests the attacks as violations of its sovereignty.
Pakistan’s army is engaged in a major offensive against militants in Bajur, a tribal region bordering Afghanistan that is a rumored hiding place of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.
Bajur government official Haseeb Khan said security forces fired a mortar shell that killed two children Saturday in the Inayat Kali portion of Bajur. Five people were wounded, he added.
In Bajur’s main town, Khar, militants fired seven missiles at government and military installations, he said. Security forces retaliated, killing three militants.
Two more suspected militants and a tribesman were killed in a clash between insurgents and a pro-government tribal militia in Nawagai, another key strategic point in Bajur, Khan said.