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Afghans Show Missiles, Say Rebels Got Stingers and British Blowpipes

January 16, 1987|From a Times Staff Writer

KABUL, Afghanistan — The Afghan Defense Ministry on Thursday displayed what it said were a captured American-built Stinger anti-aircraft missile and its British counterpart, the Blowpipe.

Defense Minister Mohammed Rafie said the United States and Britain have been supplying the advanced, shoulder-fired weapons to the anti-Communist guerrillas.

The Reagan Administration decided last year to provide Stingers to the rebels, and a Soviet general reported in December that a Stinger struck one of his troop helicopters. However, there have been no previous reports that Britain was also sending such weapons to the guerrillas.

The missiles, along with their launching tubes and containers, were carried into a news conference by military officers who placed them on a blood-red Afghan carpet at the Foreign Ministry.

The display came at the end of answers to written questions on the Afghan government's cease-fire offer before several hundred reporters and spectators.

Markings on the missile identified as a Stinger indicated it was made by Atlantic Research Corp., a Virginia defense contractor.

Since they reportedly began using the heat-seeking Stingers in late 1986, the Afghan rebels have claimed success in shooting down Afghan and Soviet planes with it.

Rafie said the weapons on display were captured from a rebel band in Afghanistan within the last 10 days.

The Stinger carried this warning on a small sticker:

"Confidential: National security information. Unauthorized disclosure subject to criminal sanctions."

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