Pakistan temporarily bans movement of trucks carrying NATO troop supplies

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Peshawar (Pakistan), Nov.17 : American and NATO troops deployed in war-ravaged Afghanistan faced an unexpected crisis on Sunday after Pakistan temporarily stopped oil tankers and container trucks from passing through a key passageway into the a country, threatening a critical supply route and raising more fears about security in the region.

The suspension came as U.S.-led coalition troops reported the killing of 30 insurgents in southern Afghanistan and the detaining of two militant leaders in two Afghan provinces near the lawless border with Pakistan.

With militants regularly seeking to hijack trucks with supplies for foreign forces in Afghanistan, Islamabad took the decision to impose the temporary ban on tankers and trucks carrying sealed containers. The Associated Press quoted Bakhtiar Khan, a senior government official, as saying that the ban could be lifted on Monday.

The agency also quoted Lt. Cmdr. Walter Matthews, a spokesman for the U.S. military in Afghanistan, as saying that "the appropriate authorities are coordinating security procedures."

There was no major announcement of the ban, and it was unclear how strictly it had been enforced in the past week. On Sunday, dozens of the trucks and oil tankers were parked along a main road near Peshawar.

Many of the supplies headed to foreign troops arrive in Karachi in unmarked, sealed shipping containers and are loaded onto trucks for the journey either to the border town of Chaman or the primary route, through the famed Khyber Pass.

Last Monday, around 60 masked militants forced a convoy of trucks to stop, briefly trading fire with nearby security officers. They seized two Humvees and a water truck, besides several trucks carrying wheat for the World Food Program.

Meanwhile, in a surprising development, Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai on Sunday offered to provide security to Taliban''s reclusive leader Mullah Omar if he agrees to enter peace talks. He also suggested that if American and other Western nations disagreed with this offer, they could leave the country or remove him.

ANI

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