Suspected militants attacked trucks carrying military vehicles for foreign forces in Afghanistan early Wednesday close to the Pakistani capital, killing at least two people and wounding seven others, police and witnesses said.
Insurgents have occasionally attacked the convoys over the last two years, but Wednesday's strike was the first so close to the well-protected city of Islamabad, something likely to cause particular unease. Much of the supplies and fuel for the U.S.-led force in landlocked Afghanistan are trucked through Pakistan after arriving on ships docked at the Arabian Sea port of Karachi.
An Associated Press photographer saw around 20 containers on fire at a depot or truck stop on the main road leading to the northwestern border with Afghanistan, about six miles (10 kilometers) from Islamabad. Many were carrying military vehicles such as Humvees.
The attackers first opened fire with automatic weapons before torching the trucks, said truck driver Mohammad Zia.
Police officer Tarir Alam described the attackers as "terrorists" who arrived in two cars and six motorbikes. Two people were killed, he said, but their identities were not known. Zia said he saw four bodies after the attack.
The convoy attacks have added impetus to American efforts to open new supply lines into Afghanistan, but commanders say they have not affected operations there. Guns, bombs and ammunition are not believed to be transported in the trucks, thousands of which make the journey each week.
It is a lucrative business for truckers, but angers Pakistanis opposed to American involvement in Afghanistan.
Since 2007, Pakistan has been hit by a bloody Islamist insurgency aimed at overthrowing the U.S.-allied government. Militants with bases along the remote Afghan border in the northwest have regularly attacked government and security force targets around the country.
On Tuesday, one such group of militants, the Pakistani Taliban, staged a public execution in front of hundreds of tribesmen in the northwestern region of North Waziristan, illustrating the level of insurgent control there, officials and a resident said.