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Karzai Sends 1,500 Troops To Herat Province

Kabul, 22 March 2004 (RFE/RL) -- Afghan Transitional Administration Chairman Hamid Karzai has sent some 1,500 Afghan soldiers to Herat Province, where a factional standoff erupted into heavy fighting after the son of the provincial governor was killed.

Yesterday, militia fighters loyal to Governor Ismail Khan seized the barracks of a rival militia faction that is blamed for killing Aviation Minister Mirwas Sadeq earlier in the day.

Sadeq was Khan's son. His death comes amid a military standoff between his father and General Abdul Zahir Nayebzada, the Defense Ministry's Herat Division commander. Some 100 Afghans were killed in the subsequent battle, and it remains unclear if Nayebzada escaped or was killed in the fighting.

But Khan's spokesman, General Gullam Mohammed Masoon, today told RFE/RL that the military deployment to Herat is not "fair."

"I believe that the security situation has been normalized and everything here in Herat is stable. So there is no need to deploy the [Afghan] National Army battalions to Heart," Masoon said.

Afghan presidential spokesman Hamid Elmi says the Afghan National Army troops are being sent to maintain law and order and to protect civilians.