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Afghanistan: Officials Deny Battle With Warlord

Kabul, 10 September 2002 (RFE/RL/) -- Afghan officials are denying reports of a battle today in southeastern Afghanistan between government troops and those of renegade warlord Padshah Khan Zadran. Zadran says he is continuing counterattacks today on the provincial capital of Khost -- a city near the Pakistan border that had been his stronghold until it was seized by government forces on 8 September.

Correspondents report overnight artillery and rocket barrages launched by both Zadran's fighters and government troops. But RFE/RL's correspondent in Khost says there has not been fighting in or around the city today.

Lieutenant General Dan McNeill, the senior U.S. military commander in Afghanistan, has warned Zadran that his roadblocks are hampering an antiterrorism operation that started several ago in nearby Paktika Province.

In Washington, U.S. President George W. Bush is to speak at the Afghan Embassy later today about the attacks of 11 September and the liberation of Afghanistan from the Taliban regime.