Soviets accused of civilian bombings in Afghanistan.
French medical organizations operating clandestine health teams inside Afghanistan have accused the Soviet Union of systematically bombing civilian targets in an attempt to demoralize villagers and deny guerrilla forces local support.
According to the Paris-based Doctors Without Frontiers (DWF) and International Medical Aid (IMA), communist pacification efforts have failed and the Soviet-backed government forces have recently adopted a policy of deliberately bombing villages, farms, hospitals, and crops. DWF and IMA are two of the three French groups working in eight different Afghan provinces.
The doctors also maintain that the Soviets have increasingly turned to helicopter and MIG attacks because the guerrillas have used improved tactics to destroy so many communist tanks and other armored vehicles in recent months.
Until now the doctors had remained discreet about their activities in resistance-held areas to prevent Soviet attack. But they decided to speak up last week at a Paris news conference when it became clear to them that the Soviets have begun to mount what one doctor described as a ''reign of terror.''
''We feel it is now up to world public opinion to pressure the Russians into stopping such atrocities,'' said Dr. Claude Malhuret, the DWF spokesman.
The conference provided details on Soviet aerial bombardments provided by recently returned doctors from as far inland a Hazarajat in the central highlands of Afghanistan. The two volunteer medical organizations showed color slides of bombed hospitals, shattered villages, injured villagers, and smouldering foodstores.
The French, who have up to 25 doctors working in Afghanistan at any one time for periods up to six months, said they have not been able to accumulate any firm evidence of chemical warfare despite numerous reports from local inhabitants.
But the doctors strongly attacked the Soviet Union for its ''brutal and widespread'' use of antipersonnel ''butterfly bombs'' as well as boobytrapped objects such as toys, cigarette packs, and pens. Such objects, they said, are scattered by helicopter over fields, villages, and mountain paths, causing heavy casualties among both inhabitants and livestock.
''Children are the main victims, as they have a tendency to pick up anything out of curiosity,'' said Dr. Malhuret.
The Soviet Embassy in Paris has strongly denied the accusations of the French doctors. ''It is absolutely inconceivable that the Soviet Union would ever resort to such inhuman methods,'' said a senior embassy spokesman.
When asked about allegations that three French hospitals were deliberately bombed over a two-day period and the continued use of antipersonnel mines, the official said: ''There is absolutely no truth in their charges. Mistakes can often happen during wartime, but photographs can also be falsified.''
L'Humanite, a French communist daily and staunch supporter of Soviet policy, has adopted a similar line. The Communist Party itself has remained quiet about the charges, but the newspaper maintained that the ''alleged'' use of antipersonnel mines and other so-called ''atrocities'' is part of American propaganda.