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Last Updated: Friday, 17 December 2004, 14:27 GMT
Moscow's Afghan war: The nurse's story
Soviet troops invaded Afghanistan on 24 December 1979, launching a war which lasted a decade. The BBC has spoken to people on both sides about a conflict which marked their lives.

V Grigoryev
Soviet interpreter:

Karl Paks
Soviet sapper:

N Akhadova
Soviet mother:

S Tursunova
Soviet nurse:

Jason Elliot
British mujahid:

Gelalei Habib
Afghan teacher:

Afghan refugee:

Omar Nessar
Afghan editor:

Sanobar Tursunova

Sanobar Tursunova served as a nurse at a Soviet hospital during the war and she recalls the flood of casualties, often with horrific injuries, arriving in Termez, Uzbekistan.

Sanobar Tursunova
Scores of wounded arrived every day, Sanobar Tursunova recalls
During the war I was working in the infectious diseases ward in the local hospital. We had lots of soldiers who were suffering from hepatitis and meningitis.

When we came off shift we used to help out in the surgical ward too. I remember one particular case when they brought in a group of 15 soldiers who had all been badly burned - they had all been sharing the same tent. Their burns were so bad that you could not even make out their faces properly. Two of them died but the rest survived.

Every day they would bring in about 40 or 50 wounded soldiers. There were many more dead bodies. So many that the morgue was completely full most of the time.

One of our patients was a teacher from Dushanbe in [the Soviet republic of] Tajikistan. He had been working in Afghanistan as a translator. He had got caught up in a bombing raid and part of his skull had been blown away by shrapnel. He was operated on but he died three days later.

Lots of lads were brought in with their hands or feet blown off. Some of them would tell us that they had deliberately blown off their own limbs because they were so frightened. They were happy because they knew they would be going home.

You know, even the soldiers who had the most terrible injuries were really happy that at least they were still alive. Even the ones who were so badly burned that there was hardly a single patch of skin left on their bodies.

I cannot tell you how absolutely awful it all was. But you know, one thing: at least in those days we had enough medical supplies and we were able to help all our wounded patients.

Interviewed by BBC World Service.

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