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Strategic hill in Kabul reported captured

April 28, 1992

Article from: Chicago Sun-Times
Article date: April 28, 1992
Author: Guy Dinmore

KABUL, Afghanistan Troops loyal to the new mujaheddin government said today that they had captured strategic Martyrs’ Hill on the southern edge of the capital city after heavy fighting overnight against fundamentalist guerrillas.

Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, leader of the radical Islamic Hezb-i-Islami forces, has rejected a peace accord reached by six other mujaheddin groups, whose forces are led by his longtime enemy Ahmad Shah Masood, the new defense minister.

A commander loyal to the government said Hekmatyar’s soldiers had been pushed back overnight from Martyrs’ Hill, which overlooks the city’s airport and commands the southern approaches to Kabul. Soldiers said an anti-aircraft position had been captured.

Diplomats expected the president of the new 51-strong interim governing council, Sibghatullah Mojadidi, to arrive in Kabul today if the city remains calm. His convoy of vehicles left the Pakistan border town of Peshawar, home of the mujaheddin political leaders through 14 years of civil war, on Monday.

There has been no leadership in Kabul since the old government capitulated Saturday.

The son of the president-elect, Najibullah Mojadidi, said Monday that 90 percent of Kabul was under the control of the new governing coalition.

Monday saw some of the heaviest fighting since Masood moved to evict Hekmatyar’s men from Kabul’s main buildings Saturday.

The worst was around the Bala Hissar, the ancient seat of Afghan government, and the adjacent Martyrs’ Hill.

Panic-stricken families fled the onslaught and merchants packed up what they could salvage after rocket-propelled grenades slammed into their shops. Some of the shops went up in flames.

Bombers under Masood’s control zoomed in low to attack Hekmatyar positions.

The Red Cross hospital was filled with wounded nearly to its 260-bed capacity.

In Washington, the United States said the struggle for Kabul appeared to be going against Hekmatyar’s Hezb forces, with the mujaheddin government controlling most installations.

“At this point Hekmatyar seems outclassed militarily and isolated politically,” said State Department spokeswoman Margaret Tutwiler.

Senior diplomats said a cease-fire, if it were to be imposed, would only help Masood.

“Hekmatyar wants a cease-fire to avoid giving the impression he was defeated,” said one. “Masood will see to it that he does not gain politically from what he cannot do militarily.”

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