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Soviets step up air raids in Afghan valley network

Soviet air raids in Afghanistan's strategic Shomali Valley north of Kabul have increased considerably, with aircraft pounding several side valleys as far as the southern slopes of the Hindu Kush Range, Western diplomats said Tuesday.

Guerrilla sources in Peshawar said the Shomali campaign could be a prelude to a big Soviet spring offensive. Diplomats said the Shomali region is important because the main highway linking Kabul to the Soviet Union runs through it and a key Soviet air base is there, at Bagram.

Muslim rebels fighting the Soviet occupation fired rockets at the Soviet Embassy during a nightlong attack last week on Kabul, a Western diplomat said Tuesday. It was their biggest assualt in nearly two months.

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