Taliban says determined to cut off NATO supply lines

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Peshawar, Dec.9 (ANI): The Tehreek-e-Taliban and other warlords in Pakistan's remote tribal regions have said that they are determined to cut off supply lines for NATO and US forces through Pakistan's Khyber Pass by the end of 2008.

After Baitullah Mehsud, now a little known warlord, Mustafa Kamal Kamran 'Hijrat' from Afghanistan's Nangarhar province, has taken it upon himself to fulfill what Mehsud had promised almost two years back.

"I am interested in one thing and that is no supplies for NATO and American forces go through the Khyber Pass," the Afghan warlord who served as a district governor during the Taliban rule told a group of journalists last week at an undisclosed location in the Khyber tribal region.

On two consecutive nights (December 7 and 8), militants destroyed 200 NATO supply trucks lodged inside terminals in Peshawar.

Supplies to the troops, however, continue. But a former security chief in the Tribal Areas was quoted by the Daily Times as saying: "I think the attacks on NATO supplies will result in further bad name for Pakistan, but I don't think the Khyber Pass will be completely out of the government's control."

Brigadier (retired) Mehmood Shah, former FATA security chief, said the importance of this route would increase with a hike in US forces in Afghanistan next month despite Russia's willingness to allow non-military supplies for the coalition forces through its territory.

Around 70 percent supplies for the NATO and US forces transit from Karachi seaport through Khyber - the shorter and cheaper route for the UN-sanctioned western forces in Kabul.

"This route will continue to provide important supplies for the NATO and other forces in Afghanistan and Pakistan should take every possible step to make it safer," Mehmood Shah told Daily Times.

Observers believe the NATO and the US would wait before they make a final decision on the route's viability. (ANI)

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