Vehicles carrying supplies to coalition forces hijacked in Pakistan
Masked insurgents have blocked a mountain pass in Pakistan and hijacked a convoy of trucks carrying military supplies bound for U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan, an official said Tuesday.
Attacks are common against supply trucks that use the Khyber Pass in Pakistan's northwest to ferry supplies to U.S. and NATO troops that are across the border in landlocked Afghanistan.
During the raid, which occurred Monday, about 60 masked gunmen blocked the route at several points and assaulted the convoy of 13 trucks, said Fazal Mahmood, an administration official for the Khyber tribal region.
Pakistani security forces traded fire with the group of gunmen but were forced to retreat, Mahmood said.
The militants took the trucks along with the drivers. According to government officials in the region, the militants appear to have unloaded the trucks and abandoned them while keeping the drivers captive.
Mahmood blamed Pakistani militants who are part of the Taliban movement for the attack.
"We are using all resources to trace and recover the hijacked trucks, some of which were carrying vehicles for the allied forces in Afghanistan," Mahmood said.
Security forces blocked the main road from the northwestern city of Peshawar through the pass to the border at Torkham in preparation.
Helicopter gunships were dispatched to assist in the search in the rugged region, where Pakistan's central government has little control and militants have found hideouts.
Malagori, the area north of the pass, is known for its militant hideouts, said Bakhtiar Mohmand, a senior government administrator.
"We have asked for foot soldiers and as soon as they get here, we'll launch a ground operation," Mohmand said.
About two dozen trucks and oil tankers have been attacked in the area in the past month, according to Pakistan officials.
Four U.S. helicopter engines worth more than $13 million US were previously stolen in northwest Pakistan while being trucked from Afghanistan to a port to be shipped home.
With files from the Associated Press and Reuters