Afghan rebels staged "barbarous" bombing attacks in three sections of Afghanistan's capital this morning in which at least three persons were killed and 10 wounded, the Soviet news agency Tass reported from Kabul.
Tass said bombs were set off during the morning rush hour, with one inflicting "heavy damage" to a bank building and several shops. Others "destroyed several buses" at a depot and damaged a market place where guerrillas were said to have smuggled in explosives in cases of fruit.
The unusually quick and detailed Tass account of rebel actions in Kabul comes after two weeks of steadily expanding Soviet press coverage of the war, which had been largely ignored here for more than three years.
Last night, Moscow television showed pictures of destruction of a Kabul business area that apparently resulted from a guerrilla rocket attack Tuesday. Two days earlier, it showed destroyed high-voltage power lines outside Kabul.
Diplomatic analysts here speculated that the flurry of bad news from the front, including the first straightforward accounts of Soviet soldiers being killed by "counterrevolutionary bandits," could foreshadow more decisive Soviet military actions against the rebels, possibly including sending more Soviet forces to Afghanistan.
At the same time, according to the analysts, the change in Soviet war reportage from Afghanistan suggests that the war has become a serious internal problem in the Soviet Union.
There have been rumors here of internal tensions and discontent about the war, particularly as the number of Soviet casualties has grown. It is also believed that the military chiefs are dissatisfied with the generally defensive and supportive role of the Soviet forces in Afghanistan imposed on them by the limited size of the expeditionary force.
There are an estimated 100,000 Soviet troops supporting the Afghan government of Babrak Karmal, whom the Soviets installed after invading the country in late 1979.
During the past two weeks, the Soviet press has been gradually shifting away from the previous treatment of the Afghan war that emphasized the role of Kabul's army in fighting the "counterrevolutionaries and bandits." Three weeks ago, Karmal was quoted in Pravda, the official Soviet party newspaper, as saying that the struggle "rests completely on the Afghanistan Army soldiers and security forces."
An account from Kabul published today in the official Soviet Communist youth newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda provided a drastically different picture, however.
The paper told of a young Afghan soldier, Khalil, who was inducted a year ago and was recently wounded in a mine explosion.
"At first Khalil did not understand what ideals he was fighting for. He did not know whom he should shoot at and whom he should protect. Many hours of political instruction, lengthy talks and disputes were needed--followed by painful and difficult soul searching--before he could become a knowledgeable fighter for the revolution," the paper said.
There is speculation among western diplomats that the new Soviet leadership has decided to be more open about the Soviet Army's involvement in Afghanistan.
According to this view, this decision may be motivated in part by the public thirst for information about the war as a growing number of young men is being rotated in and out of Afghanistan. But the more detailed coverage is also seen as intended to legitimize the Army's role in Afghanistan far more explicitly than previous assertions that the Soviet troops are merely providing training and are engaged in "exercises."
Afghanistan has turned into the issue that severely restricts the scope of maneuver for Soviet diplomacy on virtually all fronts--in Moscow's dealings with Western Europe and the United States, in the Kremlin's efforts to normalize its relations with China, and above all in Moscow's dealings with the Third World.
Diplomats here believe that the new Soviet leader, Yuri Andropov, in contrast to his predecessor Leonid Brezhnev, will try to hasten efforts at a political resolution of this problem by opening it up to internal discussion and creating a sense of crisis about Afghanistan.
The view of many observers here is that Moscow intends to cripple the insurgent forces in Afghanistan before seeking a diplomatic formula to resolve the question. Few experts expect a Soviet troop withdrawal from the embattled country anytime soon.