News In Brief

Afghan workers to get arms to beef up forces

Afghanistan announced Monday it would soon arm workers, farmers, and civil servants to protect state-run factories, farms, and government buildings from attacks by Muslim guerrillas in another apparent attempt to strengthen the government's dwindling Army. State-run Radio Kabul, monitored here, said the self-defense groups would be set up on a voluntary basis across the country.

Kabul previously relied on unarmed defense groups and police and soldiers to defend government property. But Western diplomats said that Afghan security forces were crumbling and that the Soviet Union considered them unreliable.

The self-defense groups appeared intended to bolster security mostly in urban areas, where Peshawar-based resistance sources say rebel attacks increased in late April and early May.

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