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Afghanistan: Rival Warlords Clash In North

Kabul, 1 May 2002 (RFE/RL) -- Reports say clashes between rival warlords in northern Afghanistan continued today for the second day. The infighting started in the towns of Sare Pul and Shulgara, near the city of Mazar-i-Sharif. It involved troops loyal to General Abdul Rashid Dostum, who refused to leave town after a military parade on Sunday, and those loyal to General Atta Mohammad.

Ashraf Nadim, a spokesman for Atta, said that the at least 12 people were killed or wounded during the clashes.

A spokesman for interim Afghan Prime Minister Hamid Karzai said he could not immediately comment on the situation.

Dostum is the interim government's deputy defense minister. Atta is one of the top generals in the Northern Alliance. The interim government appointed him as military commander of four northern provinces.

Meanwhile, U.S.-led coalition troops have launched a new operation against Taliban and Al-Qaeda terrorists in eastern Afghanistan.

The Pakistan-based Afghan Islamic Press agency today said that the operation involves hundreds of troops and began last night in Afghanistan's Paktia province. The troops moved into the Mezai mountains near the provincial capital Gardez.

The operation follows a clash two days ago in the neighboring Khost province between terrorists and Australian commandos from the coalition force.