Western Afghan area pummeled

Soviet bombs and rebel sabotage have devastated large areas of Herat Province in western Afghanistan and life has been completely disrupted there, travelers from the area said Monday.

The city of Herat, with a population of 600,000 about 95 miles from the Iranian border, has been under heavy rocket fire for several weeks. Ragged bandits calling themselves freedom fighters still control more than half the area of Afghanistan's third-largest city. Kandehar, the nation's second largest , has also been heavily damaged and is unsafe.

Although Soviet troops and equipment travel the main supply route just outside the city of Herat, they have had little success in most of the province, which has been one of the most stubborn centers of Afghan resistance. Despite the heavy concentration of Soviet Forces, including MIG jet fighters, MI-24 helicopter gunships, tanks, armored personnel carriers, ground-to-air missiles, and Soviet troops, Ariana Afghan Airlines flights have not landed there in nearly two weeks.

The sources also reported heavy military convoy traffic on the nation's main road, which runs from Herat to Kandehar and Kabul.

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