Recent Taliban attacks on both sides of Pakistan's border with Afghanistan have targeted trucks carrying NATO supplies near Peshawar, Afghan government buildings and a U.S. military base in Khost province. Visiting Afghan President Hamid Karzai said terrorists are expanding their reach in both countries.
The string of attacks along the border region has again highlighted the Taliban's strength in what has long been its traditional home base.
NATO supply trucks attacked
Early Wednesday, dozens of suspected militants burned several trucks at one of the main transportation depots for NATO supply trucks just outside Peshawar.
Speaking at a regional economic conference in Islamabad, President Karzai said ambushes and sabotage striking hundreds of trucks in the past year has choked-off trade between the two countries.
"Trucks have been burned, drivers killed and merchandise has been looted and set on fire," he said. "There is more to this. Terrorists and extremists are extending their reach in whole areas of our countries."
Guerilla-style assaults launched across Afghan border
While targeted attacks on the NATO supply route have become almost common in northwest Pakistan, in the past two days militants just across the Afghan border have staged coordinated guerilla-style assaults against military and Afghan government buildings.
On Wednesday, a suicide car bomber killed several people and wounded more than 20 others outside a U.S. military base in eastern Khost province.
A day earlier, at least nine militants launched coordinated attacks against government targets in Khost city. The fighters, some wearing army uniforms and others wearing burqas, caused chaos as they barricaded themselves inside buildings. They then battled Afghan and coalition forces for several hours. During much of the battle, government and military officials gave conflicting information about the extent of the attack.
Khost governor defends response
The governor of Khost, Hamidullah Qalanderzai, defended the amount of time it took to regain control of the city in an interview with VOA.
He says no one could have controlled that kind of attack in a short period of time - no matter where an attack like that occurred. He says the enemy suffered twice as many casualties in the attack.
South of Khost, in Paktika province, U.S. officials said militants fired several rockets at a coalition outpost early Wednesday. Military officials said the counterattack using airstrikes killed six of the insurgents, but also killed two and wounded six other people who were not involved with the rocket attack.
Attacks aim to derail Afghan presidential elections
Kabul-based defense analyst Khalid Maftoon says the latest attacks are part of the wider Taliban offensive aimed at derailing Afghanistan's presidential elections scheduled for August.
"There is a general sense the Taliban will increase their attacks across the country, but mainly in the south, east and in Kabul," he said. "In northern Afghanistan they do not have lots of influence, but in the past few days we have experienced Taliban activities where they have poisoned school children in Kapisa and Parwan province."
Northern Afghanistan is populated by Afghans of different ethnic backgrounds from the Pashtun-dominated Taliban and has generally been safer, despite an overall increase in violence during the past year.
But in recent weeks three schools for girls in the region have been hit with poison gas attacks, sending scores of schoolgirls to the hospital. Local officials blame Taliban sympathizers.