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Afghanistan: Rival Factions Resume Fighting In West

Kabul, 1 December 2002 (RFE/RL) -- Intense fighting between rival factions in western Afghanistan broke out overnight and continues today. Ammanullah Khan accused Herat Governor Ismail Khan of ordering a massive attack with tanks, artillery, and rocket launchers on his positions near Zeer Koh and the Shindad air base in Herat Province.

Ammanullah Khan told the Reuters news agency that he had hundreds of fighters defending front-line positions, and 11 of his soldiers were killed in the first hours of fighting. Ismail Khan told AP that Ammanullah Khan started the fighting.

Ethnic Tajik forces loyal to Ismail Khan have clashed repeatedly with those of Ammanullah Khan, a Pashtun commander. Fighting between the two sides was last reported in the Zeer Koh area one month ago.

In other news, legal and constitutional experts from Afghanistan and international groups began a one-day meeting today near Bonn to discuss ideas for the country's future constitution. The closed-door meeting at Bad Honneff comes a day ahead of an international conference on Afghanistan.

Several prominent Afghan constitutional experts are among the dozens of participants, including three commissioners from the Constitutional Drafting Commission, Mokarama Akrami, Musa Maroofi, and Sayed Mussa Ashari.

Civil society, freedom of speech, and women's rights were the three broad themes to be dealt with at the meeting.