Afghan tribesmen claimed on Friday (11 January) that they have cut two main roads from Kabul and isolated troops from the Soviet Union in Jalalabad bear the Khyber Pass, and Khandahar in the far south.
GV: Tanks and armoured vehicles on road near Kabul (2 shots)
GV: Darra tribal area in Pakistan
GV AND SV: Villagers selling and preparing arms. (6 shots)
SV INTERIOR: Villagers making arms in primitive factory (5 shots)
GV AND SV: Shop selling arms. (3 shots)
SV: New and old rifles being examined
GV: Artillery piece on tripod being examined.
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Background: Afghan tribesmen claimed on Friday (11 January) that they have cut two main roads from Kabul and isolated troops from the Soviet Union in Jalalabad bear the Khyber Pass, and Khandahar in the far south. The tribesmen are reportedly supplied with some of their weapons by tribesmen from the Pakistan border district of Darra, where home-made guns have been made for generations.
SYNOPSIS: On the Kabul-Khandahar road in Afghanistan there were many Russian tanks and armoured vehicles on Thursday (10 January). This convoy was moving out to the provinces and border areas with Pakistan, where Russian troops have met much resistance from tribesmen opposed to their presence.
The tribesmen have found support from across the border in Pakistan. The villagers in the Darra district have been manufacturing arms for generations and they sell their products in the streets and little shops to fellow-tribesmen fighting in the rugged mountain terrain running the length of the Afghan-Pakistan border.
Business has become brisk and the primitive back-room factories have found it increasingly difficult to meet the demand since the inhabitants of Afghanistan's mountain regions began their guerrilla warfare against the successive governments of Noor Mohammad Tarakki, Hafizullah Amin and now Babrak Karmal.
Steel for the guns is scarce so the villagers often have to make do with any rusting fence iron and scrap metal. The gun factories sometimes copy the most sophisticated guns, using virtually to tools except the crude devices manufactured by themselves.
Some of the weapons sold by the tribal gunsmiths are hard to distinguish from those manufactured in developed countries. "We can produce everything" one of the gunsmiths proudly claims.
And the weapons are said to work well, whether they are based on existing designs or entirely created under the dexterous hands of the tribesmen.
Artillery pieces, rifles and ammunition are all sold in the shops of Darra Bazaar -- in an unsettled area where no one needs a licence to shoot.