A week of fierce fighting between anti-communist insurgents and Afghan government forces holding the strategic city of Jalalabad has killed scores of people and wounded hundreds, a guerrilla spokesman said Saturday.
Guerrillas blasted Jalalabad in a relentless attack with long-range rockets and heavy artillery, said Mohammed Shoaib of the Jamaat-i-Islami insurgent group.
Jalalabad is seen by the guerrillas as a stepping stone to the capital of Kabul, 75 miles to the west.
Several guerrilla sources said the insurgents now control a key government garrison on the outskirts of Jalalabad, which is 45 miles west of the border with Pakistan where many guerrilla groups are based.
The guerrillas captured as many as 500 government troops in the battle for the post, said Naeem Majrooh of the Afghan Information Center, which opposes the Marxist government. He said casualty figures “are very high.”
The government of Afghan President Najibullah said 1,500 guerrillas had been killed in the week’s fighting around Jalalabad.
In Moscow, Boris N. Yeltsin, the former Moscow Communist Party chief, said in a speech Saturday that only four men made the fateful decision in 1979 to send Soviet troops into Afghanistan: President Leonid I. Brezhnev, Defense Minister Dmitri F. Ustinov, Foreign Minister Andrei A. Gromyko and Politburo ideologist Mikhail A. Suslov.
He said that Brezhnev, Gromyko, Ustinov and Suslov made the fateful decision “and then told the Politburo.”
Yeltsin, who was demoted from Moscow party chief after criticizing the party leadership, was the first official to name the individuals involved in the decision, which led to the deaths of 15,000 Soviet troops. It had long been believed that only a few top officials were involved.