Sovs Halt Pullout Of Afghanistan

Posted: November 04, 1988

MOSCOW — A top Foreign Ministry spokesman today said the Soviet Union has suspended its troop withdrawal from Afghanistan because of heavy attacks by rebels and hinted the pullout might not be completed by a Feb. 15 deadline.

"The Soviet troops are being withdrawn due to the goodwill of the Soviet government," First Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Bessmertnykh told a news conference. "They will be withdrawn in honorable conditions."

The current atmosphere of heavy attacks by insurgents with arms supplied by the United States, Pakistan and other countries "does not provide conditions for such a withdrawal of Soviet troops," Bessmertnykh said.

The Soviet Union says supplying arms to the rebels violates the April 14 Geneva agreement under which the Soviet Union already has withdrawn half of its 100,000 soldiers and has promised to remove the remaining soldiers by Feb. 15.

In related action:

* The U.S. State Department yesterday accused the Soviets of firing SS-1 Scud missiles on Afghan rebels in an escalation of the war in Afghanistan.

The attack, involving six to eight missiles, was carried out in the Nangaraq region near the border with Pakistan, spokesman Charles E. Redman said. He gave no estimate of the damage or of casualties.

* Pakistani fighter planes shot down two Afghan aircraft yesterday, official Kabul Radio said, accusing Islamabad of violating Afghanistan's air space.

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