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Afghan tribal revolts of 1944–1945

Afghan tribal revolts of 1944–1945
DateApril 1944 – late 1945
Result Government victory
 British Empire
 •  India

Rebel tribes:

Commanders and leaders
Mohammed Zahir Shah
Muhd Anwar Khan [1]
Abdul Vaqil Khan [1]
Mazrak[a] Zadran
Faqir of Ipi[2]
Abdurrahman ("Pak")[2]
Pak Malang[3]
Ghilzai Malang[3]
Sultan Ahmad[3]
Unknown number of ground troops
6 Hawker Hind aircraft
(25 April - 21 June 1944)
  1. ^ Also rendered as Mazarak

The Afghan tribal revolts of 1944–1945[4], also known as the Khost disturbances[5] were a series of tribal revolts in the Kingdom of Afghanistan by Zadran, Mangal, and Safi tribesmen which occurred in 1944 and 1945.[4] The causes laid in the worsening conditions of farmers. The Afghan government extensively deployed its air force against the rebels, using aircraft to drop leaflets, gun down tribesmen and drop incendiary bombs. Sometime in late 1945, the revolts ended.


The causes of the revolts laid in the worsening conditions of farmers.[4] One of the rebel leaders, Mazrak, supported the restoration of Amanullah Khan,[6] a king of Afghanistan who was deposed in the Afghan Civil War (1928–1929).[7]


Operations in the Southern Province against Mazrak

The Operations in the Southern Province against Mazrak[8] began in April 1944,[9] shortly after the Afghan government moved troops into the southern province to reassert their authority in the area, which by then was a safe haven for smugglers.[10] En route, the government force was attacked by a Zadian tribal leader named Mazrak,[10] who was forced to retreat into the hills following a counterattack by the Afghan government on 22 April 1944.[9] On 25 April, the Afghan government dispatched 6 Hawker Hind aircraft[11] to Gardez[8] to deal with the uprising, which returned on 21 June.[11] During that operation, the Hind aircraft were focused on dropping leaflets and incendiary bombs.[11] No large explosives were dropped, but there were several instances of hostile tribesmen being gunned down by the aircraft. 2-3 villages were said to have been destroyed by incendiary bombs during this time.[11] On request of the Afghan government, the British Raj took precautions to prevent Waziri tribesmen from aiding Mazrak.[9] During the period of 1 August to 31 October 1944, no major aerial operations against Mazrak were undertaken, other than reconnaissance flights.[12] Around this time, Mazrak was subject to heavy bombardment in British territory, where he was sheltered by local tribesmen, after which he retreated back to Afghan territory.[13] In November, the appearance of a mysterious Malang who posed as the brother of Amanullah temporarily helped boost Mazrak's fortunes,[13] but lack of money with which to bribe the tribes caused the failure of the movement, and Malang had disappeared into obscurity by March 1945.[13] Further aerial operations against Mazrak, which included reconnaissance and bombing runs, took place in the Kunar valley from 24 June to 31 October 1945.[1]

Operations against the Safi

On 24 June 1945, 4 aircraft were dispatched to Jalalabad to deal with a Safi uprising.[1] Bombs and incendiaries caused extensive damage to Safi villages.[1] One aircraft with 3 bombs, 1 vickers machine gun and 1 Lewis gun was lost during operations against the Safis.[1] Aerial operations against the Safis in the Kunar valley ended in early November.[14]

Mangal uprising

The Mangal tribe rose up in June 1945.[15]

Siege of Kunas Khas

Rebel tribes besieged an Afghan government garrison at Kunar Khas for 14 days, but were unable to capture it due to the Afghan air force supplying the settlement with food and ammunition.[1]

Aerial reconnaisance operations

An incomplete list of Aerial reconnaissance operations of note is listed below.[1]

Start Date End Date Duration (in days) Destination Aircraft involved Notes Ref
1944-06-05 1944-06-06 2 Khost 1 [11]
1944-07-02 1944-07-02 0.083 (2 hours) Khost 3 [11]
1944-07-17 1944-07-17 0.083 (2 hours) Khost 9 [11]
1945-04-15 1945-04-17 3 Matun 1 [1]
1945-05-08 1945-05-08 1 Matun 1 [1]
1945-10-03 1945-10-04 2 Matun 1 [1]
1945-10-07 1945-10-07 1 Matun 1 [1]
1945-10-09 1945-10-09 1 Matun 1 [1]
1945-10-13 1945-10-15 3 Matun 3 2 Aircraft returned on the 14th, the last returned on the 15th. [1]

Aircraft accidents

It was rumoured that on one occasion, Afghan aircraft accidentally fired on government troops or allied tribal levies, causing 40 casualties.[1] There were also a few minor accidents at the Jalalabad airfield, but the aircraft did not incur serious damage.[1] Two aerial officers, Muhd Anwar Khan (pilot) and Abdul Vaqil Khan (observer) were killed in the operations, while another aerial officer, a pilot, fell into the hands of the rebels in the Mazar or Pech Daras, where he was knifed in the back and had his throat cut, but survived after local villagers found him laying unconscious near his aircraft and tended his wounds.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q Lancaster, Alexander (15 November 1945). "AFGHAN AIR FORCE - HALF YEARLY REPORT". India Office. pp. 2, 3, 4, 5. Retrieved 16 August 2019.
  2. ^ a b Hill, George (15 November 2013). "Chapter 3, the trip (Bibliography near end of the book)". Proceed to Peshawar: The Story of a U.S. Navy Intelligence Mission on the Afghan Border, 1943. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 9781612513287. Engert letter to State Department, 15 July 1944, says that the rebel leader Abdurrahman, known as "Pak," was next in importance to the faqir of Ipi.
  3. ^ a b c Lancaster, Alexander (15 November 1945). "AFGHAN AIR FORCE - HALF YEARLY REPORT". India Office. p. 5. Retrieved 16 August 2019.
  4. ^ a b c Giustozzi, Antonio (2008). "AFGHANISTAN: TRANSITION WITHOUT END" (PDF). p. 13.
  5. ^ "Report on Afghan Air Force for the May/July quarter, 1944". Retrieved 30 September 2019 – via Qatar Digital Library.
  6. ^ Khan, Sarfraz; Ul Amin, Noor (Winter 2014). "THE CONTRIBUTION OF INDIAN MUSLIMS IN DEVELOPING PRINT MEDIA AND SPREADING ENLIGHTENMENT IN AFGHANISTAN(1870-1930)" (PDF). Central Asia Journal. p. 130.
  7. ^ Muḥammad, Fayz̤; McChesney, R. D. (1999). Kabul under siege: Fayz Muhammad's account of the 1929 Uprising. Markus Wiener Publishers. ISBN 9781558761544.
  8. ^ a b "QUARTERLY REPORT ON THE AFGHAN AIR FORCE FOR THE PERIOD 1st FEBRUARY, 1944 TO 30th APRIL, 1944". British Legation, Kabul. 10 May 1944.
  9. ^ a b c "REPORT FOR THE MONTH OF APRIL 1944 FOR THE DOMINIONS, INDIA, BURMA, AND THE COLONIES AND MANDATED TERRITORIES". Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs. 25 May 1944. p. 6. Archived from the original on 14 August 2019.
  10. ^ a b Preston, Paul; Partridge, Michael; Yapp, Malcolm (1997). British Documents on Foreign Affairs--reports and Papers from the Foreign Office Confidential Print: Eastern Affairs, January 1944-June 1944. University Publications of America. p. 141. ISBN 9781556556715. Archived from the original on 14 August 2019. Retrieved 6 August 2019.
  11. ^ a b c d e f g Lancaster, Alexander (15 August 1944). "Quarterly Report of the Afghan Air Force for the period 1st May to 31st July 1944". British Legation, Kabul.
  12. ^ Lancaster, Alexander (1944). "Quarterly Report on the Afghan Air Force for the period 1st August to 31st October 1944". India Office. p. 1.
  13. ^ a b c Preston, Paul; Partridge, Michael; Yapp, Malcolm (1997). British Documents on Foreign Affairs--reports and Papers from the Foreign Office Confidential Print: Eastern affairs, July 1944-March 1945. University Publications of America. p. 348. ISBN 9781556556715.
  14. ^ "Half Yearly Report on the Afghan Air Force for the period 1st November 1945 to 30th April 1946". India Office. 11 May 1946. p. 4.
  15. ^ Давыдов, Александр Давыдович (1967). Аграрный строй Афганистана: основные этапы развития (in Russian). Наука; Глав. ред. восточной лит-ры. p. 159. Archived from the original on 14 August 2019. Retrieved 31 July 2019.