Soviet troops last week burned more than a dozen remote villages in Afghanistan, killed most of their inhabitants and booby-trapped many of the bodies, according to a report allegedly from the scene.
A State Department official said the report "is probably true, although we have no independent confirmation." The report was quoted yesterday by the conservative Committee for a Free Afghanistan.
Committee spokesman Steven Nimetz said a man, Muhammad Gul, 30, appeared in Peshawar, Pakistan, Thursday claiming to have survived an attack March 17 on his village of Chinar in the Durbaba subdistrict of Nangahar province in southern Afghanistan.
"He said the Soviet troops attacked at 8 a.m. in full force, killing every living thing. This also happened to 14 or 15 other villages around Chinar," Nimetz said. Gul said that, in one incident, 52 women and children tried to hide on a rooftop but were spotted and burned to death when the house caught fire, Nimetz said.
"He said the Soviets came in with large packs on their backs and sprayed a yellow substance into all the homes, ignited the substance and burned everything," Nimetz said.
Bodies were later dismembered and booby-trapped, and the area was mined, Gul was quoted as saying. He reported that an Afghan who went with him to investigate the scene was killed as one of the bodies exploded.
Nimetz said Gul had come to Peshawar to obtain food and supplies for his family, who had escaped with him and were hungry in the mountains.
Nimetz said Gul could not supply numbers of Soviet troops or of the total dead, and talked only reluctantly to Karen McKay, executive director of the committee who is visiting Peshawar, and to an unidentified journalist there who taped the interview.