11,000 Afghan Troops Defect, Rebels Claim

Associated Press

Afghan guerrillas claimed Sunday that nearly 11,000 Afghan troops have joined the rebels and surrendered large quantities of weapons during recent fighting in Afghanistan.

Radio Kabul said Sunday that five civilians died and two others were wounded in a guerrilla rocket attack on the eastern city of Jalalabad and that another civilian died in a similar attack in in the town of Sorubi, about 40 miles northeast of the Afghan capital of Kabul.

The guerrilla-controlled Afghan News Agency said 68 Afghan soldiers were killed and about 90 wounded in fighting since Tuesday.

At the same time, the Soviet news agency Tass said Afghan soldiers killed 97 guerrillas and captured two major ammunition depots in fighting Saturday.

As for the reported defections, a spokesman for the Jamiat-i-Islami guerrilla group said Sunday that three Afghan regiments, or more than 10,000 soldiers, defected to the insurgents in two northern provinces on Feb. 16, the day after Soviet troops ended nine years of military involvement in Afghanistan. In addition, a Jamiat-i-Islami field commander, claimed 600 Afghan soldiers defected Feb. 18 from the garrison town of Rubat Sangi near Herat, the western provincial capital.

The Afghan News Agency of the rival Hezb-i-Islami rebel group said another 101 government soldiers surrendured during a guerrilla attack Wednesday near Mazar-i-Sharif, the capital of northern Balkh province.

If the Afghan military defections are confirmed, they would be the largest reported in the war between the U.S.-backed guerrillas and the communist regime in Kabul. The Afghan army is estimated to have 50,000 soldiers.

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