x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Pakistan begins to speed up processing of Nato supplies at border crossing

Islamabad agreed to reopen overland routes to Nato convoys last week after a seven-month blockade sparked by a US air raid on a border post that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.

PESHAWAR, PAKISTAN // Pakistan is doubling the capacity for Nato lorries at a key border crossing to speed up processing for an expected influx of supplies for troops in Afghanistan, officials said today.

Customs officials at the Torkham border crossing in the country's troubled north-west said that work had begun to expand dedicated parking for Nato containers.

Islamabad agreed to reopen overland routes to Nato convoys last week after a seven-month blockade sparked by a US air raid on a border post that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.

"After expansion the parking capacity for Nato trucks will be doubled," Obaidullah Khan, a customs official at Torkham, the closest border crossing to Kabul said.

"Prior to the closure the terminal had a parking capacity of 250 vehicles and now we are expanding it to 500."

Mr Khan said work was also under way on two special rooms for customs officers dealing with paperwork for Nato vehicles to speed up their transit into Afghanistan.

Security at the crossing is being boosted, Mr Khan said, to foil Taliban militants who have vowed to attack Nato lorries and kill their crews.

Four checkpoints have been set up around the Torkham terminal and the number of security personnel will be raised from the previous level of 550.

"No Nato supply vehicle will be allowed to pass a night at Torkham, even if we need to work for extra time," Mr Khan said.

Meraj Khan, an administrative official at Torkham confirmed the details.

Nato, meanwhile, has confirming that the six troops killed in roadside bombing in Afghanistan yesterday were Americans.

Brig Gen Gunter Katz, a spokesman for the US-led coalition, disclosed their nationalities at a briefing today. He said he could not provide other details about the incident because it is still under investigation. The Taliban have claimed responsibility for the bombing.

The service members' deaths were the latest caused by bombs planted by insurgents along roads, paths or mountain tracks.

A surge in Afghan and coalition forces during the past two years has routed Taliban fighters from many of their strongholds in the south, but the insurgents have stepped up their attacks this summer to take back key areas.