Pakistan Closes Supply Route to U.S., NATO in Afghanistan

Pakistan temporarily closed the major supply route to U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan on Monday after suspected insurgents firing rockets killed a soldier at a Pakistani military camp — the latest attack to highlight the vulnerability of the legendary Khyber Pass.

Growing militant activity along the road has prompted several temporary closures in recent months.

Truck drivers that carry fuel, food and other goods to Western troops face constant intimidation and threats of violence. Militants have even ransacked and burned vehicles waiting in terminals in the nearby city of Peshawar.

Afghan-based U.S. and NATO forces get up to 75 percent of their supplies via routes that traverse Pakistan. Military officials say the disruptions have not hurt their operations, but acknowledge they are searching for other routes, possibly through Central Asia.

The Pakistani government has responded by dispatching paramilitary escorts and staging a military operation in the Khyber tribal region, but militant activity continues.

Khyber is part of Pakistan's semiautonomous tribal belt, where al-Qaida and Taliban fighters have bases and hold tremendous sway.

Fazal Mahmood, a senior government official in Khyber, said 14 soldiers also were wounded in the early Monday rocket attack.

He said the suspected militants fired eight rockets at the camp in the Landikotal area. A daylong curfew was imposed in Landikotal while security forces hunted down the militants in the neighboring Khugi Khel area.