Baitullah Mehsud’s Taliban pose in front of a captured US Humvee. Baitullah’s Taliban flag is draped over the hood. Photo from AFP.
A convoy carrying supplies for NATO forces in Afghanistan was hijacked by the Taliban in Pakistan’s lawless tribal belt. Thirteen containers of NATO supplies and at least one US Army Humvee were taken by the Taliban as the convoy traveled through the Khyber tribal agency en route to Afghanistan.
A large force of fighters loyal to Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud was reported to have been behind the attack.
“About 60 masked gunmen popped up on the road and took away the trucks with their drivers. Not a single shot was fired anywhere,” a Pakistani government official told Reuters. “Baitullah’s men are behind this as they’re very well-equipped and trained,” he said.
Baitullah’s fighters proudly paraded a captured US Humvee through Khyber immediately after the convoy was hijacked. “His men were taking a joy ride, [Baitullah’s] flag waving from the side of the Humvee, a masked, armed man sitting on top waving at a camera,” ABC News reported.
Pakistani truckers say the government is powerless to stop the attacks. “The government is a silent spectator,” the owner of a trucking company that transports supplies through Khyber told Reuters. “[The Taliban] attack our trucks, loot them and kill our drivers in broad daylight, even near security checkposts, but [the military] can’t do anything.”
Today’s hijacking occurred one day after the US military killed eight Taliban fighters during hot pursuit from Afghanistan into Khyber. A Khyber-based extremist group called the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice said its forces battled the Afghan military before retreating into Pakistan.
The Taliban routinely hijack or attack trucks as they pass through Khyber. Scores of NATO supply trucks have been destroyed or damaged in Taliban attacks along the road through Khyber over the past year. The largest attack occurred in March, when more than 30 oil tankers were bombed near the Torkham border crossing.
An estimated 70 percent of NATO supplies move through Khyber to resupply troops fighting against the Taliban in Afghanistan. The bulk of NATO’s supplies arrive in the port city of Karachi, move north to Peshawar, and head west to the Torkham crossing into Afghanistan and the final destination in Kabul. The rest of the supplies pass through the Chaman border crossing point in Baluchistan or arrive via air.
The Pakistani government closed the Torkham border crossing to NATO traffic on Sept. 5 in protest of a US air assault that targeted Taliban forces in South Waziristan. The crossing was reopened the next day.
The Pakistani military launched an operation in Khyber in June, claiming they intended to clear the agency of extremists from the Taliban-like Lashkar-i-Islam and the allied Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice. These groups were threatening to overrun the provincial capital of Peshawar.
But no senior or mid-level leader of the extremist groups were killed or captured during the operation. The government and military were clear from the beginning of the operation that it would be limited in scope and a “show of force.”
The government ended the operation just ten days after it began. The Lashkar-i-Islam quickly moved back into its tribal areas in Khyber and continued to impose its rule.
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Later reports indicate the trucks have been retrieved.
oh hell naw! we really need a surge or some kind of strategy to defeat these guys inside pakistan territory
If this route is so crucial to our efforts in both countries, and this attack was pulled off with relative ease as this report suggests, why don’t we see more of it?
Check the article again. Attacks on trucking in that area are common, but usually involve only a few gunmen and 1 or 2 vehicles. This attack is unusual only because of the size of the operation and the results allow a photo-op with a captured american HMWWV, so it makes the news.
I wonder if the army puts a Lo-Jack system on them?
The Humvee is not a US vehicle, just a US manufactured one. The color scheme is wrong, it is a Pakistani vehicle. Also, no reports of killed or captured US personnel, reinforces that no “US vehicles” were in the convoy. Nice photo op, though, to convince the ignorant and gullible.
The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the blog post – From the Front: 11/11/2008 – News and Personal dispatches from the front and the home front.
I’m becoming much less certain that the trucks were actually recovered as reported in the Daily Times article. Reuters is not seconding that reporting today. While biased they most often do get the facts right.
Reuters: Pakistan aims to recapture trucks stolen in Khyber
This attack really reveals one of the central issues we face fighting in Afghanistan; that we must re-supply through enemy territory. It is, IMO, not a sustainable situation. It is one that could rapidly devolve thereby creating a serious logistical problem for our troops.
Unless this corridor can be secured, we are not going to win in Afghanistan. That means that Pakistan must be on our side. I don’t see that happening, in fact, I see them becoming more and more coopted by the hirabis.
It is a lousy situation and I am not inclined to have our brave men and women fight for an area that has no strategic value and cannot be effectively supplied. This is the real quagmire.
The supply lines will stay open for now at least, with some continued harassment no doubt. The Pakistani Army can’t afford to permanently close the supply lines and break their relationship with the US. The only thing keeping Pakistan’s economy afloat is the US and the World Bank. The people at the top understand this, people on the streets do not. The Pakistani army is much like the rest of Pakistani society, it is fractured and has divided loyalties. It shows in the half-hearted attempts at rooting out the Taliban.
Do I get to say “I told you so” now?
How long and how many aircraft required to evacuate all US and Allied forces from Afghanistan by air?
Because if we can’t keep them re-supplied by ground and we can’t keep them re-supplied by air (see Stalingrad-Dien Bien Phu), then we can’t keep them there.
It now appears the Daily Times article of yesterday was totally in error as their article of today makes no mention of recovery.
The attack of yesterday doesn’t appear to be just a one-off either as they have attacked traffic on the same highway again today (albeit in the opposite direction).
Daily Times: Taliban set fire to truck carrying US military jeep
Why don’t they load up the trucks next time with tracking devices and poisoned food. Works all the way around.
Maybe if we get more UAVs we can maintain an overwatch on these convoys and guide helicopter- borne Pakistani soldiers to the perpetrators. If the UAV were armed and attackers few, a missile could deter them. Of course if the convoys are numerous and small, the number of UAV’s to watch would be excessive.
That is not a US military HMMWV, but rather an Afghan National Army HMMWV. We have transferred thousands to the Iraqis and Afghans since we’ve been fielding the MRAP.
The need for a new logistics route is becoming more evident as time rolls on. The US cannot strike the targets in P-stan because the Pak gov. will refuse to let ships loaded with supply dock in Karachi. This, I think is the #1 problem. The T-ban/AQ operate with impunity in the tribal areas and places like Quetta, Wana etc. This “tree” cannot be killed unless you rip it out at the roots. We are just treading water, going nowhere…