A Foreign Ministry official said Tuesday up to 15,000 Soviet troops were killed in Afghanistan, 2,000 more than the last reported figure and an indication of heavy losses the Kremlin incurred during waning days of its intervention.

"It doesn't mean that during the last months we had the bloodiest period of the war in Afghanistan," Yuri K. Alexeyev, head of the ministry's Middle East Department, insisted to reporters.But he added: "We had shellings by the opposition of the cities ... and a lot of civilians died, and of course Soviet servicemen."

He said the new death toll came from Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard A. Shevardnadze, who left Islamabad, Pakistan on Monday.

After they began their withdrawal last May 15, Soviet forces had to rely increasingly on Afghan government troops to protect them from guerrilla attacks.