ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, April 4 (UPI) -- Islamist rebels in northwestern Pakistan cut the throats of three security guards in the latest fatal attack on a NATO truck convoy headed for Afghanistan.
The guards were killed at a NATO truck terminal in the town of Landi Kotal in the Khyber tribal district near the Afghan border.
Suspected Taliban and al-Qaida rebels also damaged 10 oil tankers carrying fuel to resupply international troops in Afghanistan, a local Pakistan government administrator said.
Attacks by rebels and organized local criminal gangs on allies' supply convoys are common once the vehicles near the Afghan border after traveling from the southern Pakistan port of Karachi. An estimated three-quarters of supplies needed for foreign troops is carried along this route.
Police and military escorts for the vehicles are common once they approach the mountainous and isolated tribal areas near the Afghan border.
Hundreds of NATO supply trucks and Pakistani drivers have been killed in the past several years. Figures released to Time magazine by NATO in 2009 indicated that from June to September that year, more than 145 truck drivers and guards were killed in attacks and 123 vehicles were destroyed.
In February this year rebels blew up 11 tankers and killed four people -- two guards and two drivers -- at a terminal on the outskirts of the city of Peshawar.
Police said around two dozen armed men attacked the parked vehicles and planted timed devices on 12 out of the 18 tankers. One of the devices failed to explode. Six people including five drivers and one of their assistants also were injured in the attack.
However, one of the worst incidents was a night ambush in June when gunmen attacked a convoy outside a depot in the Tarnol area near Islamabad. They set fire to up to 60 trailers including oil and gasoline tankers, killing seven people, mostly drivers and their co-workers.
But last October, in a rare attack in southern Pakistan, rebels destroyed at least 27 NATO fuel tankers along the usual supply route, the first such attack in the southern province of Sindh. Witnesses said around 15 men armed with rocket launchers and assault rifles fired on the vehicles before setting them on fire.
Also, 80 vehicles were damaged, police said at the time.
Some of the attacks aren't politically motivated and Pakistan police are on alert for stolen NATO goods being sold on the black market. A police raid on a warehouse in Tarnol in October recovered a cache of stolen NATO supplies, including helicopter parts, medical stretchers and several armed personnel carriers.
Four people were arrested in connection with the stolen goods that also included wireless sets, heavy-duty generators, divers' kits, water bags, shoes and gloves. Also found were several armed personnel carriers.
Police said the arrested men were believed to have had jobs at one time with the convoy organizers. "Normally the transporters steal only specific items from the supplies but sometimes they unload the entire containers," a police officer said.
"Whenever the entire container is stolen for them, the transporters set (the convoy) on fire on the pretext of a Taliban attack."