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Pakistani Militants Torch Humvees For Western Forces

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (Reuters) -- Hordes of Pakistani militants set on fire 96 trucks carrying Humvees and military vehicles for Western forces in Afghanistan in a raid in the northwestern city of Peshawar, police have said.

Security guards said they were overpowered by more than 200 militants who attacked two terminals on Peshawar's ring road, where trucks carrying Humvees and other military vehicles were parked.

"It happened at around 2.30 a.m. They fired rockets, hurled hand grenades, and then set ablaze 96 trucks," senior police officer Azeem Khan told Reuters.

Most supplies, including fuel, for U.S. and NATO forces in landlocked Afghanistan are trucked through Pakistan, much of it through the fabled Khyber Pass that runs through the mountains between Peshawar, capital of Northwest Frontier Province and the border town of Torkham.

Khan said one private security guard was killed in an exchange of fire between police and militants.

"They were shouting 'Allah-o-Akbar' [God is Great] and 'Down With America.' They broke into the terminals after snatching guns from us," said Mohammad Rafiullah, a security guard.

Last month, the government closed the main supply route to Western forces in Afghanistan for a week after militants hijacked more than a dozen trucks on the road through the Khyber Pass.

There have been worrying signs this year that Islamist militancy has spread to the area from more distant tribal regions where the Taliban and Al-Qaeda have taken root.

Peshawar city police chief Safwat Ghayyur said the government planned to launch an operation against "miscreants" in the near future.

"Certainly, a plan of operation is in place as we have crafted a strategy in which we will have to go after them," he said.

The other main land route to Afghanistan runs from the southwestern city of Quetta through the border town of Chaman to the southern Afghan city of Kandahar.