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14 September 2004 -- Aid workers began leaving Afghanistan's western city of Herat yesterday after bloody clashes in recent days sparked by the dismissal of a powerful local governor.

UN spokesman Manoel de Almeida e Silva said the United Nations yesterday began flying some of its 51 foreign staffers from Herat to the Afghan capital Kabul. About 50 other foreign aid workers were also heading for Kabul.

Hundreds of supporters of ousted provincial Governor Mohammad Ismail Khan yesterday attacked aid offices in Herat and clashed with Afghan and U.S. forces. At least seven people were reported killed and at least 20 injured. Herat was reported to be calm yesterday.

Afghan Transitional Administration Chairman Hamid Karzai dismissed Ismail Khan on 11 September and appointed a replacement in an effort to rein in local commanders ahead of a presidential election in October.

Karzai said Ismail Khan was not really sacked, but promoted to be minister of mines and industries.

In a separate development, the U.S. military has said 22 suspected Taliban fighters and Al-Qaeda militants were killed in recent fighting after a group of militants attacked a U.S. position in the southeastern Zabul Province.

(RFE/RL with wire reports)
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