Taliban claim capture of Russian short-range missiles
Wed 26 Aug 98 - 10:05 GMT
ISLAMABAD, Aug 26 (AFP) - Afghanistan's Taliban militia said on Wednesday it had captured a large cache of Russian-made short-range missiles in an isolated northern valley.
Militia spokesman Abdul Hai Mutmaen said by telephone that advancing troops discovered a depot of Lunar missiles after they captured areas around the scenic Kayan valley, 150 kilometers (94 miles) from the capital Kabul.
"We found one launcher and sufficient number of missiles," Mutmaen said, without giving details of how many of the missiles -- which have a range of 70 kilometers -- were found.
After their 1989 pullout from Afghanistan, the Soviet Red Army left behind huge stocks of weaponary, including Lunar and Scud missiles, in a bid to prop up the Afghan pro-Moscow communist regime.
The Taliban say Moscow has continued to supply the missiles to the militia's northern rivals in an attempt to keep the Taliban from the borders of central Asia.
Mutmaen also said Taliban forces captured "strategic points" of Kayan in Baghlan province, the native valley of Sayed Jaffar Naderi, leader of Afghanistan's Shia Ismaili Moslem minority.
The Taliban religious militia captured at least six key northern provinces this month. The puritanical movement now holds over three quarters of the country.