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The Pakistani Taliban torched at least 11 NATO fuel tankers and killed four of their drivers in an attack in the provincial capital of Peshawar in the insurgency-infested Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa today.

More than 20 Taliban fighters armed with assault rifles and machine guns opened fire on a convoy of NATO fuel tankers and supply trucks that were parked alongside the Ring Road on the outskirts of Peshawar City.

The Taliban and the allied Lashkar-e-Islam, an allied group based in Khyber, routinely target NATO convoys carrying fuel and supplies for Coalition troops operating in Afghanistan. The convoys pass through Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Baluchistan provinces. Last fall, the Taliban carried out a series of major attacks against NATO convoys throughout the country after US helicopters attacked Taliban positions in the tribal agencies of North Waziristan and Kurram. More then 150 NATO fuel tankers were destroyed in five major attacks, and scores more were torched in several smaller attacks.

Some US officials told The Long War Journal that they believed the Pakistani military either facilitated or turned a blind eye to Taliban attacks on NATO’s convoys to punish the US for carrying out cross-border raids. The officials also said the Pakistani military wants to deflect building Western pressure on Pakistan to carry out military operations in the Taliban and al Qaeda havens in North Waziristan. [See LWJ report, Taliban torch 35 more NATO tankers in Pakistan, for more information.]

Today’s attack in Peshawar is the latest in a recent uptick in Taliban violence in the heart of the province. The Taliban have stepped up attacks against security forces and civilians alike in Pakistan’s northwest since mid-January. The Taliban have carried out suicide attacks, bombings, and assassinations in the districts of Peshawar, Kohat, Hangu, Bannu, Mardan, and Karak over the past month. One of the largest attacks was a suicide attack at a Pakistani Army training center in Mardan that killed 31. Scores of security personnel and civilians have been killed in the attacks.

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