Massacre in Shamali
The region toward the north of Kabul up to the Hindu Kush is called by the traditional name of Shamali. This region comprises the two provinces of Parwan and Kapisa. The latter, lying as it does to the south of the Hindu Kush, includes a number of long, narrow, and tortuous river valleys, among them the famous district (wuluswali) of Panjsher. Like Logar, this region is significant to Kabul, particularly in times of disturbance. In the present war it became even more important. The shortest road from Kabul to the Soviet border passes through this region. For the Soviets, it was important to keep this road open to supply its forces and the regime. To the north of the Salang Tunnel in Kelagai the Soviets had stationed the bulk of their troops, while to the south of it was the Bagram military air base. Significant also was the location of Panjsher, which links Shamali with northeastern Afghanistan. The Soviets thus treated Shamali as a special region.
As mentioned above, Soviets killed many villagers in Shamali and fired on the villages from their bases in Khair Khana in the city and from Bagram in Parwan Province. In addition, they undertook several expeditions in the course of which they killed many civilians. The intensity of the operations, here as elsewhere, was such that cows ceased to give milk and some children died of shock. Both sides of the main road for a considerable distance were flattened to ensure its safety. The invaders still failed to pacify the region, although the mujahideen here were far from united. Besides the two unfriendly Islamist groups of Hizb (led by Hekmatyar) and Jam’iyyat, the leftist SAMA was also active in the region. Despite the disunity, because of grass-roots support the resistance here, as in many rural areas, was strong.
As in Logar so in Parwan the Soviets, descending in groups of tanks, searched houses for weapons and draft dodgers. When not allowed to do so, they would attack the village or residential forts. For example, the fort of Dade Khuda Hussain Khel close to the village of Musa near Qarabagh was hit so much by rockets in early February 1981 that of its ten inmates and a number of cattle, only one child survived for a few days. While searching houses, the Soviet soldiers would denude them of valuables, as they did in other places. In an attempt to make the Bagram air base safe from attacks from the surrounding districts, they looted Parwan even more scandalously. For the same reason they hit villages at random with rockets and guns from the south of the city of Charikar and Bagram. They were still unsafe from the ambushes of the mujahideen, who attacked them from trenches in the walled orchards, where they could hide and escape retaliatory fire. The Soviets were more frustrated in Parwan than elsewhere, although KhAD had recruited many persons from the area. Many senior officials of KhAD were from the various districts of Parwan, but the locals had ostracized them. When the mujahideen fired at them, and particularly when they inflicted casualties on them, the Soviets would do what they could to take revenge. Then they would fire at anything and anyone whom they wished to destroy. On one such occasion in early May 1981 they killed a number of children in the village of Kalakan, the stronghold of SAMA. The Russian soldiers were stated to have said, “When the children grow up they take up arms against us”; much later, Russians in Baghlan said, “We do not need the people; we need the land.”
In May 1981 the Soviet soldiers flattened the village of Mahigiran close to Raig-i-Rawan. They also killed nearly all of its residents to take revenge for a defeat the mujahideen had inflicted on them elsewhere. Their massacre of the Kushkeen (or Kuchkeen) villagers close to Mazeena was without provocation. When Soviet tanks appeared, the mujahideen, acting on the request of the villagers, withdrew without firing at the invaders. The Soviets were nevertheless unsatisfied: they killed thirty-one villagers, slaying them inside mosques, in lanes, or inside their homes. This they did on the second day of Eid, a religious festival. The invaders inflicted incredible cruelty on some people in a village nearthe town of Jabalus Siraj in August 1981. After they had been fired on, the Soviets entered the village. By then the young people had escaped, and only women, children, and elderly men remained. The Soviets wrapped thirteen of the elderly people in bedsheets and blankets and set fire to them.