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Taliban,Over 80 die as Hezb and Taliban clash in Afghanistan

March 7, 2010 by Post Team 

Taliban,Over 80 die as Hezb and Taliban clash in AfghanistanTaliban,Over 80 die as Hezb and Taliban clash in Afghanistan:Over 80 die as Hezb and Taliban clash in Afghanistan KABUL: Nearly 80 people were killed in bloody clashes between rival Islamist groups in northern Afghanistan.

The fighting between Taliban rebels and militants loyal to the Hezb-i-Islami insurgent group erupted early Saturday in Baghlan province where both factions are active, said provincial police chief Mohammad Kabir Andarabi.

Citing local sources in the region, the police chief said the battles took place in the Jangal Bagh area. The interior ministry confirmed the clashes but was not able to give casualty figures.

“We have intelligence reports that 60 fighters, 40 Hezb-i-Islami and 20 Taliban have died so far,” Mr Andarabi said.

“Our reports indicate that up to 19 civilians were also killed.”

The Taliban is the main militant group behind an increasingly deadly insurgency to topple the Western-backed Government of President Karzai and force out about 121,000 US and NATO troops stationed in Afghanistan.

Smaller militant outfits were also battling the government and foreign troops, either joining forces with the Taliban or waging their own insurgency.

Hezb-i-Islami, an Islamist faction loyal to former Afghan prime minister Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, is the second-biggest militant group.

Mr Andarabi said four Hezb-i-Islami commanders surrendered to the government following the clashes and more could follow.

Murad Ali Murad, an army general, said Afghan security forces sent reinforcements to the area and said his initial reports suggested 50 militants were killed in the fighting.

Qazi Burhaan, who calls himself a Hezb-i-Islami commander, said that fighting erupted after Taliban militants snatched some of his men. He said they lost one fighter and killed 15 Taliban.

Afghanistan is gripped in an insurgency launched after a US-led invasion toppled the Taliban in late 2001.

The Taliban and Hezb-i-Islami differed in the past over their policies, with Hekmatyar saying he was open to peace talks with the Afghan Government and the US as long as foreign troops left the country.

The Taliban leadership, however, ruled out any talks with either the US or Mr Karzai’s Government.

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