India Says Afghan Vets Are Fighting in Kashmir

INDIAN troops have killed 55 Afghans and other foreigners in Kashmir, and hundreds of Muslim volunteers are fighting alongside insurgents in the northern province, an Indian official said Aug. 24.

The government official, reading from intelligence documents, buttressed reports in the Indian press that veterans of the guerrilla war against Soviet forces in Afghanistan were volunteering in increasing numbers in Kashmir.

Authorities in Arab countries, such as Egypt and Algeria, also claim that veterans from the Afghan war have led fundamentalist campaigns to topple their secular governments.

The Indian government estimates up to 400 foreigners are in Kashmir and are moving into command positions in the militant movements, said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The reports follow concern raised in New Dehli newspapers that India is losing a propaganda war on Kashmir, especially over alleged human rights abuses by its forces.

Kashmir, which was divided between India and Pakistan, has been the spark for two of the three wars that the countries have fought since 1947. In 1990, the discontent of the province's Muslim majority against Hindu-dominated India turned into a guerrilla war.

Independent reporters in Kashmir say they have found evidence of only a handful of Afghans or Arabs in the militants' ranks. They say the official figures may be exaggerated. N. Korean Defector's Tale

A North Korean defector, describing growing unrest in the hard-line Communist state, said Aug. 24 that 10 generals have been executed for a coup attempt, food shortages have worsened, and a new dissident movement has been crushed.

Im Young Sun, who identified himself as a first lieutenant in the North Korean Army, also said military colleagues reported hundreds of people killed in an accident while trying to hide a nuclear reactor from international inspectors.

None of Mr. Im's reports could be confirmed. North Korea is among the world's most closed and isolated nations, and information is tightly controlled. There have been previous reports, however, that food and fuel shortages are crippling North Korea's economy and inciting dissent.

"Quite a few people are dissatisfied with Kim Il Sung," Im said. "We can't do anything because if we try, we are destroyed, we are killed." He said widespread food shortages have led to malnutrition in the military, normally the best-fed segment of the population. North Korea's Army has about 1 million troops.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.