Occupation of other Military Centers
Meanwhile, the invading units carried on operations in other parts of the city. Below the palace was the headquarters of the Ministry of Defense. Since Amin served also as the minister of defense, the next important person was Mohammad Ya’qub, the chief of staff. Since he was sent food from the presidential palace, he too had been poisoned, but he was still in his office when the building came under fire. Here the invading units showed no concern for human life. On entering the building, soldiers threw hand grenades and fired wildly. An unknown number of people were killed. Only a small number survived, having been left for dead. The police officers and men of the Ministry of Interior also perished in a matter of hours. A Soviet adviser of the police department asked its director, Sayyed Ali Shah Paiman, to be his guest that evening without giving him a hint of the impending catastrophe. Sensing something unpleasant in the air, Paiman declined the invitation so that he could remain in his office.
At the Kabul radio and television building, the guards, who had been stationed in two tanks, offered resistance until they were overcome. The heroism shown by a Kandahari guard stationed in an inaccessible point somewhere near the entrance is worth mentioning. He refused to let anybody in without instructions from his superiors. Unwilling to damage the building, the aggressors halted. The guard felt he had accomplished his duty. However, a station adviser known as Paichalov, whom the guard knew and trusted, approached him and stabbed him to death.
Asadullah Sarwari was later commissioned to bring about the submission of the Intelligence Department. Since he was its first president, and since the incumbent, Asadullah Amin, nephew and son-in-law of President Amin, was in Moscow at the time, Sarwari fulfilled his mission. According to Khalqi sources, Soviet advisers had persuaded Asadullah Amin to go to Moscow for treatment after he had consumed a poisoned apple; this was the work of KGB agents. Other sources have said that he had been injured in a shootout in mid-December in the presidential palace. In any case, his absence impaired the job of intelligence collection during the days preceding the invasion. Aslam Watanjar had accompanied the Soviet military force to the Afghan armored units near the Pul-e-Charkhi prison, where he persuaded the garrisons not to resist Soviet troops because Amin’s removal was, in his words, “for the good of the country.” Watanjar had initiated the first communist coup from there when he was commander of one of its units.
The invading units must have been concerned with the possible reaction by Division Eight of Qargha and Division Seven of Rishkhor. Neither showed any determined opposition. As already noted, General Aziem Ahmadzay, chief of staff of the Rishkhor Division, sent some troops to reinforce the besieged palace guards, but they could not accomplish anything decisive. Abdul Sattar, commander of the Qargha Division, at first was unwilling to submit. His units even attacked the invaders, damaging two Soviet tanks. Unwilling to retaliate, they sent Aslam Watanjar to Abdul Sattar. Whatever was exchanged between them, Sattar accepted the coup as a fait accompli.