INTRODUCTION: Rebels in Afghanistan have increased their attacks on government and Soviet forces in the last week.
Background: INTRODUCTION: Rebels in Afghanistan have increased their attacks on government and Soviet forces in the last week. Western diplomatic sources quoted by Reuters say heavy fighting has been reported in the capital, Kabul, and surrounding areas. Several people have died and many more have been injured. Government forces retaliated with jet and helicopter gunship strikes on guerrilla positions. The sources report that further away, in the Ghazni Province south west of Kabul. resistance by other rebels is succeeding. Tribes like the Hazara are said to have beaten off a recent attack using captured Soviet weapons. For the moment, they control their mounting villages in defiance of the Kabul government.
SYNOPSIS: Since the rebel resistance started, back in 1979, arms and ammunition have been ferried into the mountains from bases in Pakistan. New supplies are constantly in demand. Guerrilla groups also rely on what they can take from the enemy.
IN the old days Hazara men carried single shot rifles but have adapted quickly to the captured weaponry.
One advantage they have over opposing forces is their intimate knowledge of the ridges, valleys and peaks. It enables them to pick out the best positions for artillery emplacements like this in Ghazni Province. Tribesmen operate these guns with surprising efficiency and adaptability.
Enemy convoys using valleys like this to move troops and supplies rarely meet a head-on attack. Attacks come from the heights and finish before counter-strikes can be mounted.
The hit-and-run tactics, lessons on how to use mortars and heavy guns are all taught at special camps set up by those who plan the Hazara triba's resistance.
The pupils seemed to have learned their lessons quickly. Soviet forces recently made several attempts to take over the province using helicopter gunships. But even those can be knocked out of action.
Trucks and armoured cars captured in the skirmishes fill compounds, testifying to the success of the Hazaras' efforts. Many tribesmen were killed and some villages badly damaged by Soviet bombardments. They know that Soviet and government troops could return in fresh attempts to secure the province. When it happens, there will be more of their vehicles, weapons and other equipment being used by the rebels.