5 years, 5 months ago
The Captain’s Journal has been tracking the Khyber Pass and the Torkham crossing to determine how active they are with respect to enemy interdiction of U.S. supplies and materiel. Things have appeared to be relatively quiet, but this is deceiving. Action has occurred without making its way to the news – at least not until recently. But there are two separate versions of the story. The first comes to us from Reuters.
Four U.S. helicopter engines worth more than $13 million have been stolen while they were being trucked from Afghanistan to a port in Pakistan to be shipped home, the U.S. military said.
Most supplies for the U.S. military in landlocked Afghanistan, including fuel, are transported through Pakistan, and militants in both Pakistan and Afghanistan have been stepping up attacks on shipments.
A U.S. military spokesman said the engines were being transported by a Pakistani trucking company when they went missing some time in the month before April 10.
It was not known if the shipment went missing on the Afghan side of the border or in Pakistan, Sergeant Mark Swart said on Thursday.
“We don’t have the information on exactly where it disappeared. We just know that it did not get to the port,” he said.
The next comes from Rediff.
Taliban militants in Pakistan’s restive tribal belt captured three US military choppers while they were being shipped in a dismantled state from Peshawar to Jalalabad in Afghanistan and sold one of the helicopters for several hundred thousand dollars, a media report said todays.
Pakistani officials confirmed the development while the US embassy spokesperson refused to comment, saying the information ‘appears to be only hearsay’, The News daily reported.
Some diplomats in Islamabad were aware of the Taliban operation but were not ready to speak on record. One of the hijacked helicopters had already been sold to an unidentified customer in Afghanistan, the report said.
The components of the helicopters arrived in containers at the Karachi Port and were taken by road to Peshawar. The containers then entered the tribal areas for the journey to Afghanistan.
When the containers entered the restive Khyber Agency, Taliban stopped the convoys and took away the helicopter components. Pakistani paramilitary forces tried to confront the Taliban but ‘suffered heavy losses due to darkness’.
The incident happened in the same area where Pakistan’s ambassador to Afghanistan Tariq Azizuddin was kidnapped in February this year.
Or are these two separate events? One account has four helicopter engines making their way from Afghanistan to Karachi to be shipped to the U.S., the interdiction occurring prior to April 10. The next account has three dismantled helicopters making their way from Karachi to Afghanistan, the interdiction occurring some time in February.
Either way, helicopters or helicopter parts were interdicted, either to or from Karachi. Or, these are two separate accounts. But the strategic plan to make the Khyber pass a problematic transit route is still active by the Taliban.