Say Soviet and Afghan troops suffered 1,000 casualties in Paktia offensive
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) _ Rebels killed or wounded some 1,000 Soviet and Afghan soldiers in the battle for control of Afghanistan’s Paktia region near the Pakistani border, Western diplomats said Tuesday.
They said the Soviets and the Afghan government had committed 15,000 soldiers in the operation launched Aug. 21 to choke off guerrilla supply lines, and the offensive began winding down late last week.
The sources cited diplomatic reports from the Afghan capital of Kabul.
They said a large number of anti-Marxist guerrillas also were killed in the fighting, and scores of wounded were taken to the Pakistani border city of Peshawar for treatment. Many had lost limbs from Soviet artillery and rocket attacks and air raids, the diplomats said, speaking with the condition they not be identified.
They added they did not know how many of the Soviet-Afghan casualties were killed and how many were wounded.
Kabul Radio reported ″intense fighting″ in parts of Paktia, but gave no details.
The diplomats here said the insurgents shot down four Soviet helicopters during the Paktia offensive, and were continuing to harass Soviet and Afghan army convoys on the Gardez-Khost road.
They said other reports from Kabul and the guerrillas commands listed these actions:
Rebels rocketed two military jeeps carrying employees of Khad, the Afghan secret police, in Herat on Aug. 27, killing everyone in the vehicles. The number of victims was not given.
Nearly three dozen rockets were fired into Kabul between Sept. 4-7, and the targets were the Soviet military complex at Darul Aman, the Soviet Embassy, a Soviet garrison at Khair Khana and three residential areas.
Ten members of the Peoples Democratic (Communist) Party were killed Aug. 11 when a bomb went off in a theater in Kabul’s Karta Parwan area during a party meeting.
A guerrilla shot and killed an Afghan soldier guarding the Soviet Embassy on Sept. 4.
Western reporters generally are barred from Afghanistan, and there was no independent confirmation of the various claims.
There were these other developments:
- The Pakistani Foreign Ministry said four Afghan air force planes rocketed a Pakistani village Monday, killing two civilians and wounding 10. It said the attack was on Faqiran Kalli, close to the Afghan border and 180 miles southwest of Islamabad.
It said the Afghan charge d’affaires in Islamabad was summoned to the ministry Tuesday and given ″a strong protest.″
- Kabul Radio said government troops killed ″a large number″ of rebels and seized tons of armaments in fighting around the mountain resort of Paghman northwest of Kabul.
It said among the weapons seized were 980 grenades, 14 anti-aircraft guns, 175 rockets, 372 mines and 2.3 million rounds of ammunition. - Employees of the Afghan Bakhtar Airlines, Afghanistan’s domestic carrier, appealed to the U.S. Senate to ask the Reagan administration to stop supplying weapons to the rebels, according to a Kabul newscast monitored in Islamabad.
It repeated the allegation, made by the government Saturday, that one of the airline’s Soviet-built Antonov-22 planes crashed on Sept. 4, killing all 52 people aboard, after it was hit by a U.S.-made surface-to-air missile.
The government said the two-engine plane was struck while taking off from the Kandahar airport.
All of the main guerrilla organizations have denied shooting down the plane, but one group said its forces downed a military transport aircraft at Kandahar in late August.