Afghanistan Claims Guerrilla Leaders Killed
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) _ Afghanistan’s communist government claimed Saturday that five guerrilla commanders were killed along with many of their fighters, but the insurgents denied the report while acknowledging that two leaders were wounded.
State-run Radio Kabul, in a broadcast monitored in Islamabad, said the commanders were killed in the past few days in fighting in Kandahar province near the Pakistani border.
The report also said a large, but unspecified number of guerrillas had been killed and many weapons captured, including eight cannons and four trucks loaded with light arms and ammunition.
Guerrilla officials in Quetta, Pakistan, across the border from Kandahar, said all commanders named in the radio report were alive.
″It’s baseless,″ one guerrilla official told The Associated Press by telephone.
The Islamic, anti-Marxist guerrillas are fighting to oust Afghanistan’s government, which is supported by an estimated 115,000 Soviet troops.
Afghanistan rarely admits Western journalists and independent checks of reports from Afghanistan are not usually possible.
Radio Kabul listed Haji Latief, Maulavi Ghulam Mohammed, Sali Mohammed, Haji Noor Mohammed and Mullah Nuseruddin as killed in Kandahar fighting. Latief, the main guerrilla commander for Kandahar province, has been credited with inflicting a number of defeats on Afghan government and Soviet forces.
Habibullah Karzai, a guerrilla commander in Quetta, said Latief was in the city Saturday and that he was unhurt.
Other guerrilla officials, who insisted on anonymity, said, however, that Ghulam Mohammed and Nuseruddin were wounded a week go when their vehicles were blown up by mines.
Up to 50 guerrillas had also died in recent fighting in Kandahar province, the officials said.
Heavy fighting broke out in Kandahar this month when Soviet and Afghan government forces moved into the area to try to seal supply routes used by the guerrillas to send fighters and supplies into Afghanistan.
Soviet and Afghan jets and helicopter gunships repeatedly bombed and rocketed guerrilla positions while armored forces supported by long-range artillery launched ground assaults, guerrilla officials said.
Large minefields were laid in the Shin-narai area near the border to try to halt guerrilla convoys and these had caused most of the damage, Karzai said.
The Soviet and Afghan government forces had pulled back from the border region in the past few days and the region was now fairly quiet, the officials said. Guerrilla forces had launched attacks against Kandahar city in the interior to help relieve pressure on their forces along the border, they said.