Bridge bombed on supply route for Afghan mission
A major supply link for NATO forces in Afghanistan has been temporarily severed after militants bombed a bridge in northwest Pakistan, government officials said Tuesday.
Militants bombed the 10-metre iron bridge in the Khyber Pass, about 25 kilometres northwest of the city of Peshawar, early Tuesday, said Hidayat Ullah. An estimated 75 per cent of supplies for international forces in Afghanistan — including U.S. and Canadian soldiers — travel through Pakistan.
"Militants blew up the bridge and it's going to take some time to fix it," another government official, Rahat Gul, told Reuters.
He could not say how long access to the bridge would be cut off.
A NATO spokesperson said shipments through the route will be halted "for the time being," but international forces in Afghanistan were in no danger of running out of food or other supplies.
Army looks for other routes
The latest attack continues a militant strategy to squeeze supply lines for Western forces in Afghanistan. The U.S. army has had to look for alternate routes in response to militant pummelling of the road between Peshawar and Pakistan. The route had previously closed twice, albeit briefly, since September.
It was not immediately clear whether supply convoys could bypass the destroyed bridge and still reach Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, Pakistani security forces, using artillery and helicopter gunships, killed at least 35 Islamist militants overnight in Swat Valley, an area in the northwest known to be overrun by insurgents, Pakistan's military said in a statement.
There is no way of being able to independently verify the casualties, as the Swat region is now considered too dangerous for reporters to visit.
Swat was once a popular tourist destination, but in the past couple of years has become a haven for militants. The state responded with force, but residents say militants increasingly hold sway.
With files from the Associated Press