46 militants killed in Pakistan

February 7th, 2009 - 1:08 am ICT by IANS  

TalibanIslamabad, Feb 6 (DPA) Pakistani troops killed 46 militants Friday after an attack on a truck carrying supplies for NATO forces in Afghanistan left five people injured in the country’s tribal region, officials said.Four military helicopter gunships targeted a convoy of militants from the extremist organisation Lashkar-e-Islam near Chapari Feroz Khel area of Khyber district that borders Afghanistan.

“Around 46 insurgents were killed and several more injured in the strikes, while four vehicles were destroyed,” said Wajid Ali Khan, a spokesman of paramilitary Frontier Corps which operates in the tribal belt.

However, Tariq Hayat Khan, a civilian official in the district, said more than 50 militants died in the security action, a claim which was outright rejected by militants’ spokesman Misri Khan.

“I was in the convoy when it came under attack. Only my driver Shakir died and our 10 mujahidin were injured,” said Misri Khan on phone from undisclosed location, vowing to take revenge for the action.

The strikes came hours after a suicide attack on NATO supplies running trough Khyber district. Lashkar-e-Islam is suspected by authorities for providing assistance to Taliban fighters carrying out raids to cut-off the vital supply route.

A car bomb went off in Jamrud area as a truck carrying supplies for the Western troops passed the vehicle, Fida Hussain Bangash, a local administrator, said over the phone.

“Five passers-by, including a couple of schoolchildren, were wounded in the blast,” Bangash said.

The container with supplies intended for the NATO troops was completely destroyed in the explosion but the crew survived with minor injuries.

The vulnerability of this key overland route has increased lately, as militants destroyed or plundered hundreds of Afghanistan-bound vehicles in recent months.

Friday’s bombing came three days after militants blew up a bridge in Khyber, briefly cutting off the supply line, which is used to transport more than 75 percent of food and military hardware for the US and NATO forces fighting Taliban in landlocked Afghanistan.

US authorities are in a process of securing other links through Central Asian states to keep the crucial supplies running.

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