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Afghanistan: Government Forces Battle With Warlord

Afghanistan, 10 September 2002 (RFE/RL) -- Fighting continued near the southeastern Afghan city of Khost today, as government troops and forces loyal to renegade Afghan warlord Padshah Khan Zadran fired at one another. Mohammad Khan Gurbuz, a spokesman for Khost Province Governor Mohammad Hakeem Taniwal, today said fighting was "fierce." He said both sides were using mortars and rockets in Badam Bagh, about seven kilometers west of Khost. There were no immediate reports of casualties in today's fighting.

Zadran was a key U.S. ally and the governor of Paktia Province until Afghan Transitional President Hamid Karzai sacked him in February over his military assault on the city of Gardez. Zadran has said he will continue fighting until Karzai appoints him as chief administrator for the provinces of Paktia, Khost, and Paktika.

Yesterday, the U.S. Army said it had started a "large-scale" operation in Paktika Province, aimed at Osama bin Laden's Al-Qaeda terrorist network.