Afghan Rebels Claim Capture of Provincial Capital
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) _ Moslem guerrillas claim to have captured a provincial Afghan capital after several days of heavy battles.
The rebel report came during escalated fighting in Afghanistan’s 10-year- old civil war.
A spokesman for the Moslem insurgents based in Pakistan, Hamid Karzai, said the guerrilla forces on Friday overran Terin Kot, about 180 miles south of Kabul, the Afghan capital. He said the victory followed several days of heavy battles.
Some Islamic green flags of the insurgents flew from buildings in the city, the capital of Uruzgan province. However, it was not possible to confirm the rebels’ claim that they controlled it.
The assault on government troops defending Terin Kot was launched by guerrillas of several rebel groups with headquarters in Pakistan.
For more than a dozen years, U.S.-backed rebels have been fighting to topple Kabul’s government.
Moslem insurgents reportedly control much of the countryside, but they have been ineffective in destroying government defenses around most cities and control only a handful of the towns.
Moscow has been the major backer of the government in Kabul. However, the Soviets withdrew the last of their soldiers from Afghanistan in February 1989.
Since then, President Najibullah has tried to distance himself and his party from its communist roots, claiming to have rekindled the spirit of Islam.
Rebel leaders have dismissed that effort and vowed to press on with their efforts to overthrow his government. Bitter feuding among rebel leaders has stymied the resistance, however.
For several months, Moscow and Washington have been trying to work out a settlement to end the war.
They are reportedly close to an agreement that calls for new national elections. The stumbling block has been the composition of a caretaker administration to oversee the vote.
After a lull of several months, renewed fighting and rocket attacks have been reported throughout the country. Earlier this week, 61 people died and scores were injured in rocket attacks on the Afghan capital.