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US halts shipments from Afghanistan through Pakistan

US halts shipments from Afghanistan through Pakistan

WASHINGTON:  The US military suspended shipments of equipment out of Afghanistan through Pakistan, citing protests that posed a risk to truck drivers, officials said.

The move came after club-wielding activists in northwest Pakistan forcibly searched trucks for NATO supplies in protest over US drone strikes in the tribal belt.

“We have voluntarily halted US shipments of retrograde cargo through the Pakistan Ground Line of Communication (GLOCC) from Torkham Gate through Karachi,” Pentagon spokesman Mark Wright said in a statement.

He was referring to the main overland route used by the Americans and NATO to withdraw military hardware from Afghanistan, as part of a troop pullout set to wrap up by the end of 2014.

Trucks have been told to wait in holding areas in Afghanistan, officials said. “We anticipate that we will be able to resume our shipments through this route in the near future,” Wright said.

A defense official said Washington believed the Islamabad government fully supported the use of the route and that it would soon restore security to the area.