INTRODUCTION: In Afghanistan, government troops, and those of their Soviet ally, have been trying to clear the valley passes around the capital, Kabul.
LV PAN Truck passing over Pul-E-Barik bridge.
SV PAN FROM Defensive army pill boc TO another truck crossing bridge.
CU Repair marks on bridge.
SV Soldier patrolling and Afghan army armoured car patrolling over bridge. (2 SHOTS)
SV Kablu river. (SOUND)
LV Be-Sud bridge with traffic passing over. (2 SHOTS)
CU Armed civilians crossing bridge.
SV & LV Soviet MIG flies over. (2 SHOTS)
SV PULL BACK TO LV Passengers being checked at entry point to bridge.
SV & CU Soldiers on truck pass over bridge. (4 SHOTS)
SV PAN Boy on donkey crosses bridge.
LV PAN FROM Children outside of village wall of Narmasi TO men of Sipah-e-Inqlab walking with their weapons. (2 SHOTS)
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Background: INTRODUCTION: In Afghanistan, government troops, and those of their Soviet ally, have been trying to clear the valley passes around the capital, Kabul. These strategic valleys are particularly vulnerable to attack from rebel guerrillas. Recently government forces were made to withdraw from the Panjshir valley north of Kabul. Further south, volunteers and government units guard the passes to Pakistan from where many of the guerrillas infiltrate the country.
This bridge is in Nangarhar province on a main road south of the capital near Jalalabad. It is protected by Afghan army units and volunteers from nearby villages who are assigned such para-military duties. Traffic on this important route to Pakistan has been prey to attack from guerrillas in the past. The bridge, like others in the area. The bridge, like others in the area, has also come under attack but has since been repaired by Afghan engineers. Now the pill boxes and armoured car patrols bear witness to the government's determination to keep the bridge open.
Further north, over the Kabul river, is another strategically important bridge. This is the route north from Jalalabad to Konar province which also borders Pakistan.
The bridge is protected by the Sipah-e-Inqlab, meaning soldiers of the revolution. Many of the men are members of President Karmal's ruling People's Democratic party. Soviet airforce MIGs make frequent sorties over the area.
Bus passengers and other travellers have their identification papers checked by the Afghan army and armed volunteers, The soldiers are looking for rebels infiltrating from Pakistan or young men evading military service. Armed units also patrol the main Jalalabad highway in military vehicles.
Until January 1980, the main user of the bridge were the local people of the village of Narmasi. Since then the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan and the guerrilla activity that has followed has made the bridge a strategic target. The men of the Sipah-e-Inqlab, who guard the bridge, are mainly local men from Narmasi and the surrounding villages. As the Afghan regular army continues to suffer considerable casualties and defections, the Soviet backed government of Babrak Karmal will continue to rely on these local volunteers to guard the passes to Kabul.