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Alexandrov Sergey
Shutul tragedy. 16 - 17 October 1985, Pandjshir

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(Sergey Alexandrov was the head of communication service of the 682nd infantry ragiment in 1985 - 1987)

The 682nd infantry regiment took part in an Army operation for secure of the Pully-Khumri-Kabul road and was returning to a base without any loss, destroying dukh-s cashes with ammunition and food on the way back. As usually two undermanned infantry companies, a reconnaissance company and a flame thrower platoon, mobile command centre of the regiment consists of five officers, small group of communication officers, ?commandant-sі soldiers and a dozen of miners, took part in that operation.

They were moving in three groups - two on the top, on both sides of the ravine and one, which did the combing itself, beneath. The armoured carriers and tanks were moving at a short distance from the groups, able to support them with fire in case of emergency. The operation was practically over. The command centre officers had to go down to kishlak Anava, kept by the a paratroopers battalion of the 345th regiment, where they were waited by a support group, then make a march to Rukha on armoured carriers. The rest of people had to walk the same way afterwards. The mood was a little down due to the information from GRU (main military intelligence service) about a possible ambush on the road but nobody paid serious attention to it. The road was undermined very often but it seemed impossible for a very powerful group with tanks and armoured carriers to be attacked there, in own zone, among own sentry posts. Besides such an information, in most cases, hadn-t been confirmed, people were exhausted by a ten days raid and the only thought they had was ?Let-s get home as soon as possible!і

The order, delivered from the commander of the army, lowered the level of everybody-s inspiriting bellow zero - to destroy the ?dukh-sі object, which, supposedly, was located in a glacier zone on one of the sides of Shutul ravine. No one arguments of the regiment commander about unreality of that intelligence data did help - in half an hour the order was confirmed and tired people of the units who returned, in the eve of the operation, warm clothes to the stock, began to move up to mountains.

At the same time there was information from Rukha that they had a lot of empty trucks from Afghan army garrisons in Barake, Bazarake and Rukha itself, which refused to move forward, to Gulbakhor direction, means towards the command post of the regiment, without an convoy. The lieutenant colonel G. - the deputy of the commander of the 108th infantry division, the head of operative group at command post of the regiment, ordered to send the rest of miners, some BMP (armoured carriers) and trucks, discharged during the combat actions, to Rukha. Two ensigns were appointed to lead that column, there was only one officer - lieutenant, completely turned yellow of hepatite.

The first act of that tragedy happened on the mountain ?shelfі on the way to Rukha. That time everybody regretted they had ignored the GRU information. The ambush was very real, besides well prepared. Seizing the carelessness of the sentry posts the small group of ?dukhs-і grenade launcher shooters and snipers infiltrated to the road and took position not above, as usually, but beneath the road, behind duvals (solid clay fence) of ruined kishlak, extending along the road. Some mortar detachments allocated behind the line of our posts. They even could manage to put special marks on rocks, kind of guiding points. They made the only one mistake - thinking that mobile commander centre would be in the column, moving to Rukha. Blowing up, from the grenade launcher, moving in the head of column the sapper-s truck and BMP, moving at the rear of column, ?beardedі calmly began to fire upon the rest of trucks between those two. Both ensigns, who were riding on armoured carriers, were wounded, the lieutenant burned in one of trucks. Expecting dazing ?shuraviі (Russian in Afghan language) come out of trucks, ?dukhsі covered the column with mortar fire. Whereas soldiers in the column understood they had to shoot down the road not up, whereas people at the sentry posts required and corrected the artillery fire upon the mortar detachments positions ten minutes past by. During that time ?dukhsі disappeared. Totally three people were killed in that short combat, ten were wounded, five BMP and six trucks were burned to ground. One can just imagine how many people could be killed and wounded if the command centre and soldiers of supporting units were in the column.

Towards the evening of the same day the group, sent to mountains, leaded by the commander of the 1st infantry battalion, deputy of the commander of the regiment, mayor A. and the head of chemical service mayor K. reached the glacier, having not walked even a half of a way. The people were exhausted by the previous raid and moral depressed by a removal of a perspective of returning to the base. The commander of the battalion asked the commander of the 682nd infantry regiment, mayor P. permission to get lower the glacier to stay a night. The mayor P. applied with that request to lieutenant colonel G. as he was the only one he had communication with. That, in his turn, - to the commander of the division, and the commander of the division send a request to the headquarters of the Army. Nobody even said a word, for few hours of negotiation, that a group, stuck on the glacier, had only summer uniform and one sleeping bag for two people, about that terms of execution of the absurd order were ruined

It was almost dark when the answer from the Army returned. The colonel G. was suggested to act according to the situation just keeping in mind that in case of getting down the group could be attacked from the above. It means from the glacier, where it was hardly possible to be somebody, besides in total darkness. And nobody, neither head of operation centre of division nor commander of battalion could take a responsibility to issue an order themselves. The group stayed to stay a night on covered with ice rocks. The usual, for overnight stop, regime of communication was established, providing the saving of batteries for radio stations. The radio station of the senior commanders was in the net all the time, the radio stations of subordinates were supposed to establish communication according to the schedule. In case of emergency very effective in mountains way - three shoots - was supposed to be used.

The radio station of the commander of the battalion didn-t establish communication at 4 o-clock AM. The radio operators unsuccessfully tried to establish communication with the second radio station, which was supposed to be switched on all the time. They called them, loosing voices, shot to air until the dawn. The full silence on that side of the ravine generated the most terrible assumptions. But the report of a commander of battalion, who managed to establish a communication, exceeded even such assumptions. As the result of tiredness and the lack of control of the officers all people got asleep when day was over. At the radio station and machine guns, in sleeping bags and without, soldiers and officers - everybody. Seventeen people congealed to death. More then thirty got chilblain of different extents, almost half of them with further amputations.

As result v the 682nd regiment of the 108th division lost SIXTY people for 24 hours, one third of them killed. The lieutenant colonel G. was send to Union as a teacher to a military chair in one of the Institutes, the commander of battalion was dismissed. The criminal case was instituted against the commander of the regiment - mayor P. In the March of the 1986 he gaily proclaimed in front of line of taken aback officers: "The case against your commander was ceased due to the absence of the corpus delicty."

1998


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