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Wednesday, 30 January, 2002, 17:05 GMT
Rival factions clash in Gardez
The Governor of Paktia province, Pasha Khan Zadran, signs a document during the UN-sponsored talks on Afghanistan in Bonn in December 2001
Locals appear to distrust the Kabul-appointed governor
Kate Clark

Fighting has broken out in the Afghan town of Gardez, the capital of the Paktia province to the south of Kabul.

Reports from the town speak of mortar, rockets and small arms fire, and of residents fleeing in panic, as American war planes circled over the town.

Control of the province is disputed, and the fighting appears to have been an attack on the man whom the interim government in Kabul has appointed as governor, Pasha Qhan Zadran.

He is a powerful tribal leader from the neighbouring province, and that has not gone down well with some local people, who had already selected a provincial council and a governor immediately after the Taleban fell.

There were demonstrations against the new Kabul-appointed governor last week, and now there appears to have been an open attack on him.

But there have also been repeated allegations that factions of the Northern Alliance which entered Kabul after the fall of the Taleban have been working to destabilise the provinces to the south, whose strong tribes could come to rival their own power.

See also:

30 Jan 02 | South Asia
Analysis: US success in Afghanistan
30 Jan 02 | Americas
Karzai asks UN for bigger force
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