Afghan Bombers Strike Pakistan Again; 31 Die
Afghan warplanes Friday bombed two Afghan refugee camps near the border in northwestern Pakistan, killing at least 31 people and injuring 49, Pakistani officials said.
It was Afghanistan’s second bombing raid across the border in two days. On Thursday, Afghan planes bombed two villages in the same region, killing 35 people and injuring 200.
A government official said the bombs hit the camps of Matasanga and Khardand, 180 miles west of Islamabad, Pakistan’s capital.
The Pakistani government called Thursday’s attack a “heinous outrage” and said Afghanistan will be held responsible for its “continued criminal actions.” The statement was issued before the second raid. There was no immediate response from Afghanistan.
Indirect Peace Talks
The two countries are engaged in U.N.-sponsored indirect talks to end the fighting between Afghanistan’s Soviet-backed Communist government and Muslim rebels.
Pakistan aids the rebels and houses about 3 million Afghan refugees. Most of the refugees live along the border with Afghanistan, and rebels have base camps there for forays into Afghanistan.
The Pakistani government official said six Afghan aircraft dropped 16 bombs on the Matasanga refugee camp about 1 p.m. Friday, killing 30 people and injuring 36. The ration depot was destroyed, he said. About half an hour later, nine Afghan aircraft dropped 14 bombs on the refugee camp of Khardand, killing one person and injuring 13. The official said 21 of the dead were Afghan refugees and 10 were Pakistani aid workers.
Gulbaddin Hikmatyar, an Afghan guerrilla leader, put the death toll at 41.
On Thursday, Afghan aircraft bombed the Pakistani border villages of Ghulam Mohammad. The dead included both Afghans and Pakistanis, but no breakdown was given.
Prime Minister Mohammed Khan Junejo on Friday visited some of the victims of Thursday’s raid who were hospitalized in the border city of Peshawar.
Junejo, speaking to reporters before the second raid occurred, said Thursday’s bombing “was unprecedented in the last six years.” He described the attack as “pressure tactics.”
In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Phyllis Oakley said the attacks were “blatant violations of Pakistani airspace and cost a greater loss of life and property than we have seen in some time. We condemn this incident in the strongest terms.”
She said the air raids “call into further question the intentions of the Najib regime and the Soviets.”
The Pakistani government said Thursday’s attack showed that “rather than seeking to establish a propitious atmosphere, the Kabul regime is deliberately aggravating tension and vitiating the prospects of the talks” in Geneva.
Withdrawal Stalls Talks
The latest round of peace talks began Wednesday. Since 1982, the two sides have reached agreement on several issues, but have been deadlocked on a timetable for the withdrawal of an estimated 115,000 Soviet troops from Afghanistan.
Afghanistan has said the troops could leave within about four years, while Pakistan wants them out within three or four months.