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Soviets said to have taken grip in key Afghan valley

Soviet troops have occupied 45 positions surrounding the Panjshir Valley, consolidating their forces and securing their supply routes through the former rebel stronghold in northern Afghanistan, Western diplomats said Tuesday.

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Three Soviet generals have been killed in the last two months by rebels who shot down their helicopters near the valley, according to reports that diplomats in India and Pakistan have received from Afghanistan.

Names of the Soviet generals were not available. The reports said the first was killed in late April, at Rokha on the south side of the Panjshir Valley. The second general was killed, along with five members of his crew, when rebels shot down their helicopter on May 5 or 6 during an inspection tour of the Andarab Valley, a major access to the Panjshir. The third general died in the valley near Bazarak, according to the reports.

The reports could not be independently confirmed.

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