PESHAWAR: US-led coalition forces in Afghanistan heaved a sigh of relief on Sunday when vital supplies rolled into Afghanistan via the Torkham border crossing after a hiatus caused by Nato air strike, officials said.
The first convoy comprising more than a dozen vehicles, “left for Afghanistan this afternoon,” customs official Muhammad Nawaz said. More vehicles loaded with supplies for Nato and US troops were ready to leave, he added.
The Foreign Office on Saturday announced the reopening of the main land route for Nato supplies after an 11-day gap “with immediate effect”. The route is crucial to supplying the nine-year campaign by US and Nato forces in Afghanistan against the Taliban insurgency.
During the closure thousands of oil tankers and supply vehicles became stranded at different points between Karachi and Peshawar.
Scores of Nato vehicles were destroyed in arson attacks over the past week while the border crossing was shut, as Taliban militants stepped up efforts to disrupt the route and avenge US drone strikes.
The reopening came after US ambassador Anne Patterson on Wednesday apologised to Pakistan for the “terrible accident” that killed at least two Pakistani soldiers. The government shut the Torkham border crossing on September 30 after a cross-border assault by a Nato helicopter killed three Pakistani soldiers. Officials said between 200 and 300 fuel tankers and supply trucks usually cross the border daily.
Meanwhile, the outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan claimed responsibility for the latest attack on a Nato supply convoy in Balochistan and vowed they would continue until US drone strikes are stopped. “We accept responsibility for the attacks on the Nato supply trucks and tankers in Sibi district on Saturday,” TTP spokesman Azam Tariq said. “We will continue the attacks on Nato trucks and tankers until the drone strikes are stopped,” he said in a telephone call from an undisclosed location.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 11th, 2010.
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