Fighting erupts in provincial Afghan capital; four reported dead

Wednesday, April 24th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) _ Factional fighting erupted Wednesday in southern Afghanistan after one local police commander arrested another and locked him in a shipping container for five days, the provincial intelligence chief said. Four people were killed and three were wounded.

The fighting broke out Wednesday afternoon in the main market of Khost, a provincial capital 95 miles south of Kabul, the capital.

Hazrat Uddin, the provincial intelligence chief, said 150 fighters under Mujibur Rahman attacked forces loyal to Sur Gul. Both men are provincial police officials.

Three of Gul's men were killed and two were injured, Uddin said by satellite telephone from Khost. One of Rahman's men was wounded, and a shopkeeper was killed in the cross fire, he said.

Uddin said the fighting broke out after Gul arrested Rahman, accused in an earlier killing, and kept him in the shipping container. Rahman staged his attack after being released, Uddin said.

By Wednesday night, both sides had retreated to their positions, but appeared intent on continuing the battle, Uddin said.

U.S. Special Forces are stationed in Khost, a lawless city, where rivals have waged bitter gunbattles in the past. Men swagger down the dusty, rutted streets of Khost with Kalashnikov rifles and rocket launchers.

Sandbag bunkers manned by fighters representing rival warlords are located on rooftops and at several intersections.

Al-Qaida and Taliban fighters are believed hiding in the villages and mountains surrounding Khost where U.S. soldiers have come under rocket attack on several occasions.