U.S.-backed Afghan guerrillas unleashed a hail of rockets onto central Kabul during rush hour Wednesday, killing at least 13 people, injuring 34 and sparking fires in residential areas, Soviet sources and the Soviet news agency Tass said.
State-run Kabul Radio also reported that guerrillas fired 170 rockets at the eastern city of Gardez on Tuesday, killing six people, injuring seven and destroying 60 shops and houses.
The Soviet sources in Kabul said at least 42 rockets rained down on the Afghan capital as residents traveled to work Wednesday morning. They said many rockets landed in residential districts, causing fires.
Tass said 13 people were killed and 34 seriously injured.
The barrage came after a lull in rebel rocketing of Kabul since Sept. 27, when at least 35 people died and 156 were wounded in what the sources said was the bloodiest rocket attack on the city since the start of the nine-year civil war.
The sources said that rebel rockets have killed almost 600 people and injured close to 2,000 since the May 15 start of the implementation of the Geneva Accords on Afghanistan, which call for the withdrawal over nine months of Moscow’s 100,300 troops from the country it invaded in December, 1979.
Other towns and cities also have been targeted in what Western diplomats say is a campaign by the guerrillas, who are backed by the United States, China and Iran, to show civilians that the government no longer can protect them.
Town Near Border Hit
Tass said Wednesday that the situation around the town of Khost near the Pakistan border has deteriorated, with “near daily massive rocket and artillery shelling” by the guerrillas. Khost last year was the scene of one of the biggest Soviet offensives of the war, to break a rebel siege of the town.
The Western diplomats estimate that in September alone, at least 153 rockets hit Kabul, causing about 355 casualties. The Soviets, while concurring with the casualty count, say the number of rockets last month was about 450.
“While your diplomats stand on the roof counting rockets exploding in the city, we monitor every rocket that is fired,” said one highly placed Soviet official.
The Western diplomats said most of the rockets were poorly aimed because the guerrillas lack proper launchers and are forced to lean the weapons against rocks to fire them.