Gunmen in northwest Pakistan have attacked a convoy of container trucks carrying supplies for NATO troops in Afghanistan, killing one of the drivers, officials have said.
The assault on Tuesday was the first such attack since the supply lines reopened three weeks ago, following a seven-month blockade imposed by the Pakistani government.
Pakistan had blocked NATO supplies after a botched US military operation near the country's border with Afghanistan had resulted in the deaths of 24 Pakistani soldiers in a US air strike.
The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) have threatened to attack trucks carrying NATO supplies and those who operate them, and extremist right-wing groups have held large public demonstrations against the resumption of the supply lines.
Tuesday's attack took place near the market in Jamrud, on the outskirts of Peshawar, the provincial capital of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, Bakhtiar Khan, a local administration official, said.
"Two armed men riding on a motorbike opened fire on a container carrying supplies for NATO troops across the border and killed its driver," Khan told the AFP news agency, adding that the driver's assistant was seriously wounded.
Another administration official said that the truck was part of a convoy of several vehicles that were travelling without security protection when they were attacked.
A hospital official in Jamrud confirmed the casualties.
"The driver was shifted to our hospital in serious condition, he died later," Azam Khan of the state-run Jamrud hospital told AFP.
He received one bullet in the head and two in the chest, he added.
Pakistan on July 3 decided to reopen overland routes to NATO convoys crossing into Afghanistan, after the US publicly apologised for the air strike deaths last November.
So far, relatively few trucks carrying NATO supplies have crossed the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, as shipping agents and transport companies await a deal regarding compensation for seven months of missed work as well as security guarantees.
NATO supplies travel from the southern Pakistani port city of Karachi to one of two border crossings: Chaman in southwestern Balochistan province or Torkham in the northwestern tribal area of Khyber.
During the seven-month hiatus, the military alliance was forced to use more expensive supply routes running through countries to Afghanistan's north.
On July 18, 22 NATO supply fuel tankers were destroyed in a bomb attack at a yard where they had been parked. That attack was claimed by the Afghan Taliban.
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|Timothy V. Gatto|