Afghanistan said today that 19 members of its national field hockey team were kidnaped and probably massacred by guerrilla forces last April in the wartorn country. It charged the Carter administration with complicity in the incident.
The account and a bitter denunciation of the U.S.-led boycott of the Moscow Olympics came at a press conference in the Soviet-garrisoned Afghan capital of Kabul and were reported here today by the official Soviet Tass news agency.
It seemed carefully timed for maximum political impact, four days before the boycott-damaged Summer Olympics open here. The 24-member Afghan team is now in residence at the Olympic Village.
Afghan Olympic athletes in Moscow declined to met with a Washington Post reporter today, and speaking through a Russian translator, asked that all questions be submitted in advance in writing.
But Tass, confirming reports that has been published as unconfirmed rumors circulated from Western sources two months ago, quoted three survivors who said their bus was stopped on April 24 by four armed men outside the northern Afghan city of Kunduz while the team was returning from matches in the Soviet Union.
The driver fled and about 40 "bandits" surrounded the 22 players and three passengers, according to the survivors, whom tass identified only as players Mahammed Hashem, Rahmatullah, and Shirhan. Two team members tried to resist "but were immediately killed by the bandits," Shirhan was quoted as saying.
He said another player was wounded and one of the three other passengers killed and that the attackers divided the survivors into small groups and marched them into woods.
There they were locked in a guarded shed, and later, Shirhan said, an armed interrogator arrived and berated them: "Don't you know that America prohibited sportsmen from competing in the Olympic games? Why did you go to the U.S.S.R.?"
Shirhan said when the guards fell asleep later that night, he and his two friends escaped and made their way to Kabul. The survivors, Tass said, believed "in all probability (their teammates) have been killed."
In a separate Kabul dispatch, Tass said: "The sportsmen of Afghanistan state in all firmness that the killing of our comrades is directly linked with that Carter administration's policy of boycotting the Olympics games. We are confident that the peoples of the world will wrathfully condemn that vile crime. The blood of innocent victims is fully on the conscience of Carter and his administration.
"It is perfectly clear to everyone that no attempts and crimes by imperialism's henchmen will hamper the Moscow games."
The Afghan Olympians here will compete in wrestling and boxing. Other team members, including the soccer and basketball teams, and seven of the 11 wrestlers, have defected in recent weeks, in apparent protest against Soviet actions in their country.