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Rocket Attack On Kabul Airport Kills At Least 9

October 19, 1988

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) _ A rocket fired by Moslem guerrillas today killed nine people and injured 17 who were waiting outside Kabul airport to catch a flight bound for Tashkent and Moscow, a security officer said.

Western diplomatic sources in Islamabad, Pakistan, said the attack killed at least 15 civilians and caused Soviet-Afghan military aircraft to scramble. Radio Kabul said nine were killed and 18 injured.

An officer of Sarandoy, an Afghan paramilitary force entrusted with airport security, said nine people, including two Soviet women and a Soviet girl, were killed. The other people killed were Afghans, he said on condition of anonymity. One of the injured was a Soviet citizen, and the rest were Afghans, he added. All 26 people were waiting in a tent outside the airport.

The rocket was one of 21 that hit the airport grounds between 9:25 a.m. and 3 p.m., the officer said. No one was injured by the other rockets, but some windows were broken in airport buildings.

Tass, the Soviet news agency, said about 60 surface-to-surface missiles were fired into the capital.

The Sarandoy officer said some of the rockets landed in areas of the airport used by Soviet troops but he could not give any details.

All civilian flights out of the airport were canceled for the remainder of today and for Thursday, he said.

Afghan and Soviet forces, who base helicopters and transport planes at the same airport, continued to take off and land after the rocket attacks.

A Western diplomatic source said two fighter-bombers, four helicopter gunships and one transport plane were seen taking off after immediately after the barrage started.

The security officer said the rocket that killed the Soviets and Afghans landed at 1 p.m. just outside the last of several gates barring access to the airport terminal. The dead and wounded were among about 40 people waiting inside the tent.

Four hours after the attack, large bloodstains marked the sidewalk in front of the tent, and small puddles of water were bright red.

The tent was blown off its pegs, the canvas pitted with shrapnel holes. Wooden and metal chairs lay in a tangled heap.

The debris included the body of a fluffy, black and yellow cat, a wristwatch strap and torn plastic handles from tote bags.

A workman scraped gravel over the pools of blood.

The Sarandoy officer was unable to say how big a rocket struck the tent or how far it had been fired from. According to Western diplomats, the Moslem guerrillas fighting Soviet and Afghan troops use rockets as big as 107mm and 122mm, which have a range of nine to 13 miles.

Today’s attack was the largest on the airport since the first week of September when guerrillas rockets destroyed eight Sukhoi ground attack jets. The number of human casualties in that attack was not known.

Update hourly