Supporters of Pakistani religious party Jamaat-e-Islami chant slogans in Karachi during a July 15 rally condemning the movement of NATO supplies to Afghanistan through Pakistan. (Fareed Khan / The Associated Press)
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PESHAWAR, Pakistan — A mortar round hit a house belonging to a paramilitary soldier Sunday in northwestern Pakistan, killing his wife and three of his children, police said, not far from the newly reopened NATO supply crossing to Afghanistan.
The soldier in the Frontier Corps, Dolat Mir, was wounded in the explosion in Mera Sheikhan village near the Khyber tribal area, said police official Inayatullah Khan.
The Khyber tribal region is one of the two land routes for ferrying the supplies to U.S. and its allied NATO forces across border in Afghanistan. Chaman border in southwest Pakistan is the other land crossing.
Mir's son and two daughters who died were between the ages of 1 and 7, Khan said.
It was unclear who fired the mortar, Khan said, or whether the house was intentionally targeted. The 27-year-old soldier has been serving in the North Waziristan tribal region, said police official Behram Khan.
The military has been conducting operations against Islamist militants in Khyber.
Pakistan reopened both routes for NATO supplies on July 4 after a seven-month suspension. This came after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton apologized for the deaths of 24 Pakistani soldiers in an allied forces raid on a border military post. Pakistan blocked the routes after the border incident, demanding an apology.
Opponents of reopening the route demonstrated at the Chaman crossing on Sunday.
Around 4,000 Islamists travelled hundreds of kilometers to the border from Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan province where Chaman is located, and held a sit-in protest, said police official Agha Mohammad. A banner in the rally read, "Say no to NATO supplies," and the protesters chanted, "Long live Mullah Omar," a founder of the Taliban.
The demonstrators dispersed peacefully.
Another 1,000 Islamists marched to the seaport in the southern city of Karachi, where NATO supplies are received before being transported to Afghanistan.
Thousands of Islamists under the banner of the Difa-e-Pakistan Council, or council for defending Pakistan, a group of several Islamic political parties and militant groups, thronged the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, on July 9 to protest the supply resumption. At the time, the group pledged to organize more protests.
Associated Press Writer Matiullah Achakzai in Chaman contributed to this report.