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Militants destroy NATO convoy in Pakistan

/ Source: The Associated Press

Militants in northwestern Pakistan attacked trucks ferrying supplies to NATO and U.S. forces in Afghanistan on Monday, killing two people and destroying a dozen vehicles, witnesses and police said.

Meanwhile, a suicide bomber killed eight people and wounded 40 others at a military checkpoint in the region's Swat Valley, police said.

The spasm of violence comes amid a spike in tensions between Pakistan and rival India over last week's terror attacks in Mumbai, which New Delhi has blamed on Pakistani militants.

Pakistan has condemned the attacks and vowed to crack down on the perpetrators if New Delhi provides evidence. But there are fears that tensions could nevertheless boil over between the nuclear-armed rivals.

The attack on the U.S.-led coalition trucks took place at a terminal in Peshawar, which sits along the supply route from Pakistan to Afghanistan. The city has seen an upsurge in violence in recent weeks, including the slaying of an American working on a U.S.-funded aid project.

Several gunmen fired rockets and automatic weapons at the Faisal terminal, killing a driver and a clerk and destroying 12 trucks, said police officer Ahsanullah Khan.

An AP Television News reporter saw two Humvee military vehicles on board the trucks that were on fire following the attack.

Important supply route
Up to 75 percent of the supplies for Western forces in landlocked Afghanistan pass through Pakistan. Earlier this month, suspected Taliban militants hijacked several trucks carrying Humvees near the Khyber Pass.

Pakistan halted traffic along the road for several days while it arranged for armed troops to guard the slow-moving convoys.

Al-Qaida and Taliban militants in the northwestern border region are blamed for rising attacks in Pakistan and also in Afghanistan, where violence is running at its highest level since the U.S.-led invasion in 2001.

On Saturday, Pakistani security officials said they would withdraw troops from the volatile northwest if India were to mobilize its forces close to the Pakistan border following the Mumbai attacks — an alarming scenario for the West as it tries to get Islamabad to focus on the al-Qaida threat.

Bomber kills 8, wounds 40
Pakistani troops are battling the insurgents in at least two regions, including the Swat Valley, the scene of Monday's suicide attack.

The bomber detonated his car while queuing up at the checkpoint, a military officer at the Swat media center said on customary condition of anonymity.

"Two passengers vehicles received the major thrust of the explosion and were badly smashed up," he said.

Police officer Dilawar Bangash said eight people were killed and 40 wounded.

The identities of the dead were not known.

Karachi riots kill 32
Meanwhile, shooting and violence continued in parts of Karachi, the largest city and commercial hub of Pakistan, raising the death toll to 32 in three days of violence.

Riots on Monday forced authorities to close all educational institutions and postpone university exams as ethnic and political gangs clashed in different neighborhood.

City Police Chief Waseem Ahmed said 32 people were killed and 55 injured.