- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 18, 2009

ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN (AP) - Two men on a motorcycle threw a bomb at a truck carrying an excavating machine to NATO troops in Afghanistan, halting traffic Wednesday along a supply route through Pakistan’s southwest, officials said.

No one was injured in the blast near the Pakistani frontier town of Chaman, but the machine was damaged, area police chief Gul Mohammed said.

Meanwhile in the northwest, dozens of assailants opened fire at a university, killing three police officers and a security guard. A top official said the Taliban later detained some of the gunmen.

U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan rely heavily on two major supply routes running through Pakistan. The main one goes through the Khyber Pass in the northwest, and trucks that use it have frequently been attacked.

The smaller route through Chaman has attracted less attention from militants, but has not been exempt from violence.

Wednesday’s attack happened as the driver awaited security clearance to cross into Afghanistan, Mohammed said. Police closed the crossing and began searching other vehicles, he said. The route was expected to reopen later Wednesday.

The gun attack occurred in Lower Dir, which borders Pakistan’s militant-plagued tribal regions and is near the Swat Valley, where the government recently agreed to impose Islamic law to strike a peace deal with the Taliban.

Local police official Pervez Rahim said the gunmen’s identities were not clear, but that they fired upon police who were in a vehicle guarding the school. A guard was also shot and died on the spot, Rah said.

Dir lies next to Bajur, a tribal region where Pakistan’s military recently declared victory over al-Qaida and Taliban fighters after a monthslong offensive. There are concerns that militants under fire might have fled to safer areas.

The U.S. has pushed Pakistan to crack down on militants who use its soil as a base from which to plan attacks on American and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

U.S. officials have expressed concerns at the country’s attempt to forge peace in the Swat Valley by agreeing to impose Islamic law. A cease-fire between the Taliban and the military in the valley, struck in February, appears to be holding.

Syed Mohammad Javed, a senior regional administrator, said Taliban fighters detained 14 of the alleged gunmen after they arrived in Swat, and that the men may have to face a newly established Islamic court in the valley.

The military tried for more than a year to oust Taliban fighters from Swat, but the militants kept gaining sway, essentially setting up their own parallel administration in the lush region that once attracted legions of tourists.

The fighting killed hundreds and displaced up to one-third of the valley’s 1.5 million people.

___

Associated Press writers Mattiullah Achakzai in Chaman and Sherin Zada in Mingora contributed to this report.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide