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On the ancient Silk Road that cuts through here, the Taliban bombed a bridge early this morning and once again cut off the supply route for the U.S. military through the Khyber Pass from Pakistan into Afghanistan.
The attack is believed by local officials to be part of recent strikes on convoys by the so-called Pakistani Taliban and possibly Al Qaeda elements.
The bombing took out the bridge and highlighted the challenges that U.S. and NATO troops will face as President Barack Obama begins a surge strategy in Afghanistan, according to officials at the Pakistani Transporters’ Union in Peshawar.
Gen. David Petraeus, chief of U.S. Central Command who was in Afghanistan last month, announced that the U.S. military was opening new supply routes through Central Asia. But sources here yesterday questioned that, saying that Khyber was the only effective supply line.
It is part of the ancient Silk Road and has been the Achilles’ heel of empires from the time of Genghis Khan through the British presence and the Soviet occupation.
At midday, I saw evidence of the severed supply route. Because of the bombed bridge, all trucking was completely shut down. Military and commercial goods -- as well as goods for non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that offer support aid in Afghanistan -- were shut off. Hundreds of trucks packed with containers of industrial goods, food and auto parts lined up at the huge Ports World trucking terminal on the ring road around Peshawar. The terminal was the site of a recent attack in which some 200 trucks were burned.