Mass Killings in Civic Gatherings and the Kidnapping of Women
The Soviets considered any gathering of Afghans, no matter for what purpose, potentially hostile. Gatherings of the people, whether for wedding or funeral services or for prayer in mosques, were common features of the Afghan society. Strong social bonds, characteristic of the society, required such functions, which were attended by hundreds of people, whether or not invited. But such gatherings were now fraught with danger. The Russians, brought up in a different social environment, were ignorant of the social conventions or simply intended to terrorize the Afghans. At any rate, helicopter gunships would fire rockets on men, women, and children in groups. They did this so frequently all over the country that it is impossible to describe all of the events. Perhaps the biggest gathering they hit was in the Ganjabad village of the Bala Buluk district of Farah Province. In mid-September 1980 hundreds of villagers were convivially celebrating wedding ceremonies in the village. Suddenly they were hit with rockets fired from a group of helicopter gunships. About 150 were killed and scores of others wounded, some of whom were brought to Kabul for treatment. In August 1981, as a result of a two-hour attack by four helicopter gunships on a wedding party in the village of Jalrez in the upper part of the Maidan Valley, 30 people were killed and 75 wounded.
While military operations in the country were going on, women were abducted. While flying in the country in search of mujahideen, helicopters would land in fields where women were spotted. While Afghan women do mainly domestic chores, they also work in fields assisting their husbands or performing tasks by themselves. The women were now exposed to the Russians, who kidnapped them with helicopters. By November 1980 a number of such incidents had taken place in various parts of the country, including Laghman and Kama.
In the city of Kabul, too, the Russians kidnapped women, taking them away in tanks and other vehicles, especially after dark. Such incidents happened mainly in the areas of Darul Aman and Khair Khana, near the Soviet garrisons. At times such acts were committed even during the day. KhAD agents also did the same. Small groups of them would pick up young women in the streets, apparently to question them but in reality to satisfy their lust: in the name of security, they had the power to commit excesses. Likewise, in the name of security the security men were involved in creating insecurity, looting shops and stores and breaking into houses while patrolling during the curfew hours at night.
The kidnapping of women disturbed families with young daughters. The incidents were sporadic and infrequent, since the Soviet officers censored the suspected soldiers; nevertheless, the Afghans were still alarmed. In fact, all families with young sons and daughters were alarmed. The former were, as already noted, hunted for military service, and the latter could be stained for life. Of the former, many fled abroad, while the latter became a painful problem for their families. Kabul’s inhabitants became conspicuous for a high proportion of children, the elderly, and women. At stake now was their honor, about which the Afghans are sensitive.