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Afghanistan: Thousands Honor Massoud

Kabul, 9 September 2002 (RFE/RL) -- In Afghanistan's capital Kabul today, several thousand people watched ceremonies and listened to speeches honoring assassinated anti-Taliban resistance commander Ahmad Shah Massoud. Massoud, a leader of the Northern Alliance, was mortally wounded on 9 September 2001 in a suicide bombing carried out by suspected Al-Qaeda terrorists posing as TV journalists.

Former Afghan King Mohammad Zahir Shah yesterday paid tribute to Massoud, calling him a "brave warrior and fearless fighter."

Reports say security has been tightened in Kabul to prevent any disturbances during the Massoud commemorations.

Transitional President Hamid Karzai, who narrowly escaped an assassination attempt last week, has left Afghanistan for a visit to the United States. Karzai is scheduled to meet this week with President George W. Bush and address the United Nations General Assembly.

More conflict flared yesterday in the eastern Afghan province of Khost, with clashes reported between fighters loyal to warlord Padshah Khan Zadran and official Khost Governor Hakim Taniwal.

The Afghan Islamic Press agency reported that at least 15 people have been killed in fighting. No confirmation was available.

Also in Khost, at least five people were reported injured in an apparent grenade explosion in a music shop.