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Genocide Throughout the Country
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Early Instances of Genocide

Major operations were underway in the countryside in early June 1980, although they had started much earlier. In late May 1980, during an operation in Ghazni Province, at least thirty villagers were massacred. Because of a battle between the mujahideen and the invading army, these villagers had taken refuge in a subterranean canal (karez) in Waghiz near Shilgir. The Soviet army poisoned them with chemical agents of an unknown sort. New operations targeted the districts around Kabul. During the first week of June 1980 heavy guns and mortars were fired from the Begram military base toward villages in Kohdaman, Gul Dara, and Farza valleys. Later, targets as far away as the valleys of Nijrao and Ghorband were shelled from the same base. At the same time, the first-mentioned valleys also became the targets of bombings, followed by operations in which ground forces destroyed houses and orchards and killed “many people.” The operations had been undertaken without warning or provocation. During the first two weeks of July 1980, from fifty to sixty villages in districts around Kabul were either wholly or partially destroyed. On 10 July 1980, as a result of a clash between the mujahideen and the invading force in Qarabagh near Kabul, the Soviets killed civilians in such numbers that their bodies lay strewn about the area for days. The remaining inhabitants started to leave for Kabul, but the authorities prevented them from doing so.

During the last week of July 1980 helicopter gunships fired rockets into the town of Islamabad and the villages of Sabrabad, Shamaram, and the small valley of Salao in the upper part of the Alishang Valley in Laghman Province, destroying them either wholly or partly. They were bombed for being considered the hideouts of mujahideen. The massacre in Turani (Nurani?) village and the city of Baghlan in late July 1980 was a case of revenge. A group of Soviet soldiers in tanks was ambushed by the mujahideen after they had searched houses in Turani village close to Baghlan on 28 July 1980. The next day the invading army bombarded the village and, entering the city, killed anyone who happened to be there. About fifty people were killed, and their bodies could be seen scattered about.

In October 1980 Soviet soldiers brought a bigger calamity on the people of Baghlan. Having lost men in fighting with the mujahideen in parts of the provinces of Baghlan and Qunduz, the Soviets turned on the people of the city of Baghlan in revenge. First they searched houses and denuded them of valuables. Then they brought to one place those people whom they had rounded up in the course of the house searches. Having separated out the party members, they shot the rest, dumping their bodies in pits dug with their machines. Some claimed that five hundred people were killed, but this seems an exaggeration. This deliberate massacre was reminiscent of the Keralay tragedy in Kunar Province in 1979 and of the killings in Merv in Turkmenistan 120 years earlier. Following the counsel of a Soviet adviser, the Khalqi governor of Kunar Province massacred more than 620 people of the town of Keralay to intimidate the rest to submit. In Merv the Russians had massacred more than six hundred Turkomen with a view to intimidating the recalcitrants to desist from opposition.

In late July 1980 the Soviets bombarded the Dai Mierdad district in the province of Ghazni so much that the destruction of human and animal lives and property was said to be beyond calculation. Many houses and villages were destroyed, and the survivors found it difficult to dispose of the dead bodies, which lay unburied for days. At about the same time, as many as five hundred people were killed in bombardments in a few villages (names unknown) close to Maidan; the number may be inflated. But at this time helicopter gunships were seen flying almost every minute over the city of Kabul, most of them heading toward the west, where casualties during the two weeks of July and August were said to be beyond calculation. My diary for 3 July 1980 reads in part: “In this way the defenseless, tyrannized people, women, the old, and children alike, fell like leaves in the autumn in their own homes, mosques, hamlets, and villages. The operations were so ruthless that an Afghan regiment in Maidan clashed with the Russians until the regiment was recalled to Kabul.”

As a result of these operations, the regime considered Kabul to be safe. It was an illusion. Within the first week of August the city was besieged. The mujahideen wrested Qal’a-e-Qazi, a huge village in the western suburbs of Kabul, from the regime’s control and destroyed the military post in the midst of the town of Dasht-e-Barchi. Likewise,the mujahideen destroyed the ancestral house of Karmal along with the houses and property of other party members in Shewaki and Kamari in the eastern suburbs. They also wrested the surrounding villages from the regime’s control. On 7 August the villages were bombed and many people killed. The survivors took refuge in Kabul.

In mid-August guns were fired from Mehtarlam, the provincial capital of Laghman, toward villages believed to be hideouts of mujahideen. By now this had become a standard way of dealing with the situation. On 19 August 1980, after tanks were landed by helicopters on some hills in the valley of Ali Shang, villages nearby were shelled. Not much later the trees of Karinj, a hilly area close to the Alishang town from where the mujahideen had fired on the Soviets, were burned with some chemical substances. On 6 September 1980 the mujahideen destroyed two tanks and a number of other vehicles after they had been separated from the convoy and headed toward the village of Shakarman in the Ali Shang valley of Laghman. In revenge, the following night scores of villages, including Deva, Ganjawan, and the town of Maskura, were shelled and a number of people killed or injured. A greater calamity befell the city of Herat when, on 16 August 1980, a part of the city was shelled. Until then, except for the governor’s headquarters the rest of the city was out of the regime’s control. It was said that three thousand people were killed in the attack. This was the most grievous attack on Herat since the one in March 1979, when approximately 25,000 persons were killed. During the present attack Soviet soldiers looted shops, particularly those selling the gold and silver products for which Herat is famous. The Soviet army then withdrew to its bases in Shindand.

The massacre that the invading army committed in Kandahar at almost the same time as that in Herat was no less atrocious. Guided by Parchamis, Soviet armored units searched houses in villages far from and close to the city of Kandahar. In places clashes occurred with losses to both sides, including the destruction of many tanks. This was more than the Russians could digest, and in revenge they visited a pogrom on the people of the city of Kandahar. This incident began when the invading army, stationing their tanks and other vehicles on high mounds, shelled for hours many villages in the distant Nagahan district. Confident that the opposition had been suppressed, they descended on the villages and orchards to loot goods and pick up fruit. The mujahideen, who had been in their hideouts, fell on them, killing many on the spot and also those fleeing. The remainder of the Soviet soldiers fled to the city, where they, in company with the Soviet force stationed near it, killed many people, including women and children, in revenge for those they had lost in Nagahan. The massacre disturbed party leaders, including Majid Sarbiland (chief of the Kandahar zone), Aslam Watanjar, and Saleh Mohammad Zeray, who were there at the time. They asked the Soviet commander to dissuade the soldiers from committing excesses. The commander replied, in effect, “You do your business, and we will do our business.” Zeray and Sarbiland were from Kandahar, and their failure to save the people of their province from their own comrades lowered their standing still further, even among their own relatives; their predicament resembled that of the governor Sher Ali Khan a century earlier, when he, in opposition to his family and his people, served the interests of the British in opposition to the interests of the people of Kandahar.

In mid-October 1980 an armored unit was dispatched to Laghman, where the mujahideen increased their activity in the pleasant weather of the winter. Except for an encounter in the lower part of the valley in Chardihi, no opposition was offered. But near Shamangal in the upper part of Alishang Valley three mujahideen resisted before they were caught. One was doused with gasoline and set afire. The Soviet soldiers, concluding that all people of the area were dushman (enemy), began to kill the villagers along both banks of the river. In the course of house searches for weapons and draft dodgers, they also seized valuables. The draft dodgers had already fled to the mountains. The number of casualties was said to be between 350 and 1,200. For days dead bodies lay about the region, and the survivors were unable to cope with the terrible burial problems. The Kaftarmala massacre close to the village of Deva was swift as well as surprising. A number of nomads, arriving at the area in a truck for the purpose of spending the winter, were welcomed by their relatives and locals. All together they formed a big gathering. Soon helicopter gunships were hovering over them; assuming that the nomads were enemies, the Soviets fired into the group, killing eight and wounding scores of others.


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