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Taliban militants in the Khyber area of northwest Pakistan attacked two NATO supply trucks early Wednesday, killing a driver.
Taliban militants in northwest Pakistan, a region targeted in U.S. drone attacks throughout this month, attacked two NATO supply trucks early Wednesday, killing a driver, officials said.
Scores of militants have been killed this week in stepped up drone strikes in Pakistan. U.S. drones are suspected instrikes targeting alleged militants in Pakistan's tribal region near the border with Afghanistan on Monday, with up to 25 reportedly killed.
They come a week after an official review of U.S. strategy in Afghanistan and Pakistan was released that indicated that the Afghanistan war could not be won unless Pakistan rooted out militants on its side of the border, reflecting the concerns of military commanders that insurgents freely cross from Pakistan into Afghanistan to fight U.S. troops before fleeing back across the border.
Pakistani officials this month also reported U.S. drone strikes in Khyber, an apparent expansion of the covert drone program previously confined to targeted Al Qaeda and Taliban commanders elsewhere in the tribal belt.
The U.S. does not acknowledge its use of unmanned drones, but it has paid a price for such attacks. A week ago, the CIA was forced to pull its top-ranking spy in Pakistan out of the country amid death threats.
The spy, station chief in Pakistan, had recently been named in a lawsuit filed by a Pakistani man seeking $500 million for the death of his son and brother, who he alleges were killed in a U.S. drone strike.
Meantime, Pakistan shut its main northwestern border crossing to NATO supply vehicles on Sept. 30 for 11 days after a NATO helicopter assault killed two Pakistani soldiers. Most supplies and equipment needed by foreign troops in Afghanistan is shipped through Pakistan.
Scores of NATO supply vehicles were destroyed in gun and arson attacks while the border crossing was shut, with Taliban militants determined to disrupt the route and avenge U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan's tribal belt.
According to an Associated Press count, 700 NATO troops have been killed in Afghanistan in 2010, making it by far the deadliest for the coalition in the nearly decade-long war.
NATO commander Gen. Josef Blotz, told reporters in Kabul on Monday that security forces had made significant progress in recent weeks in tackling the Taliban across Afghanistan.
"In the last 90 days, Afghan and coalition forces captured or killed 880 insurgent leaders, killed 384 lower level insurgents and captured more than 2,300 lower-level insurgents," he said. "While we still expect very tough fighting in the weeks and months ahead as operations move into the last insurgent-controlled areas, we also have now started to shift to the hold phase in many areas of the country."
The top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan said over the holiday weekend that NATO, Afghan and Pakistani forces would conduct more coordinated operations against Taliban insurgents on both sides of the Afghan-Pakistani border.
In an interview with the Associated Press, Gen. David Petraeus said forces in Afghanistan and Pakistan had operated in "very close coordination in the past two months" and would have more opportunities to coordinate with U.S.-led NATO troops "as earlier gains are solidified."
Petraeus also praised Pakistan for its counterinsurgency efforts over the past two years in areas near the Afghan border where militants retreat after attacking coalition troops in Afghanistan. The U.S. has long pressed Pakistan to clear those regions of insurgents and the issue has strained U.S.-Pakistani relations.