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Nineteen Refugees Killed in Mine Blast

March 16, 1986

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) _ A land mine blew apart two pickup trucks filled with Afghan refugees on their way to a wedding, killing 18 women and one man, according to guerrilla sources and newspaper reports Sunday.

Eight people were wounded in the explosion Saturday in the remote Gamo area near the town of Parachinar, close to the Afghan frontier, Afghan guerrilla officials said.

The incident also was reported Sunday by Pakistani newspapers in the city of Peshawar, captial of the frontier district.

All the wounded were hospitalized, with three reported in critical condition.

Guerrilla officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the trucks set off an anti-tank mine buried in the road near an Afghan refugee camp. They said agents of Afghanistan’s Marxist government may have planted the mine.

Official sources in Islamabad said the reports appeared to be correct, but that they could not provide details while the incident was being investigated.

The Afghan guerrillas are fighting the 6-year-old Marxist government of Afghan President Babrak Karmal, which is backed by an estimated 115,000 Soviet soldiers. The guerrillas use bases in Pakistan and an estimated 3 million Afghan refugees live in Pakistani camps.

Bomb and mine attacks against Afghans in the border region are common. Guerrilla and Pakistani officials have charged that the Afghan government secret service is responsible.

Update hourly