Afghan minister reported killed

Afghanistan's frontier-affairs minister, Faiz Mohammad, and two other government officials were reported killed by tribesmen in eastern Paktia Province, a rebel spokesman says.

Mr. Mohammad was the main force behind Afghan President Babrak Kammal's recent policy of seeking to undermine the insurgency by winning over rebel or neutral tribes in eastern afghanistan and taking advantage of tribal rivalries. Over recent months he had been touring the Pushtu-speaking provinces, where the rebellion against Kabul's left-wing government began two years ago.

Meanwhile, reports from Western diplomats in Kabul say President Karmal has bowed to a Soviet demand that all heavy and sophisticated weapons be withheld from Afghan Army units. They add that the government had also decided to widen the age of military conscription, which now covers all men from 17 to 26. This follows reports of regular defections from the armed forces to the insurgents and the Army's failure to contain the countrywide rebellion.

Last week nearly 400 youth members of the ruling People's Democratic (Communist) Party of Afghanistan, after receiving basic military training, were sent to bolster Army units in three northern provinces bordering the Soviet Union, Samangan, Balkh, and Jowzjan.

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