Pakistani truckers halt supplies to NATO forces

December 15th, 2008 - 5:21 pm ICT by IANS  

TalibanIslamabad, Dec 15 (DPA) Pakistani truck drivers have decided to stop transporting supplies to US and Nato forces in Afghanistan following a string of attacks by Taliban militants, a media report said Monday.The decision was taken Sunday during a meeting of Khyber Transport Association (KTA), a powerful organization of the owners of up to 4,000 lorries and trailers.

“We feel that our drivers and vehicles are not safe anymore,” KTA head Shakir Afridi told The News daily.

Heavily armed pro-Taliban militants have recently carried out several raids on terminals in Peshawar where the vehicles hauling cargo for Western troops are parked at night before crossing the Khyber Pass into landlocked Afghanistan.

Last week alone around 300 lorries, trailers and containers were torched. About 70 Humvees, armoured personnel carriers, were among the destroyed supplies.

The mountain pass in the militant-infested Khyber Agency tribal region is a major supply route for the international troops, who receive three-fourths of their food, fuel and military supplies through Pakistan.

A spokesman for Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, the country’s Taliban movement, said Sunday the attacks were carried out in retaliation for strikes by US drones in country’s restive tribal region.

The Taliban has also launched dozens of similar raids inside Afghanistan on supply caravans. “We have lost 70 people and around 400 vehicles over the last six years,” a KTA official told the newspaper.

The decision by KTA, which accounts for a major part of the region’s truckers, is expected to hamper Nato and US supplies.

In anticipation, Nato is already in talks with Afghanistan’s northern neighbours Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan for an alternative supply route.

“There are certainly ongoing political discussions between Nato and countries to increase the through-put of material coming in from highways on the north side of Afghanistan,” General David McKiernan, commander of Nato-led troops in Afghan, told a news conference Sunday.

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