Warlords continue to fight it out at Gardez
Rival Afghan warlords waged artillery battles for control of Gardez, killing at least 43 people and injuring dozens of others. Laying siege to the city was Bacha Khan, a local warlord aligned with Hamid Karzai, who named him governor of the province. Local tribal elders refused to accept Khan's appointment, so Khan moved to take the city by force. The fighting could complicate American efforts - including clandestine operations led by U.S. special forces - to root out Taliban and al-Qaida fighters in Paktia province. Paktia includes numerous smuggling routes that Taliban and al-Qaida fugitives could use to escape Afghanistan.
Haji Saifullah claims victory in Gardez
"This evening the Shoura (tribal council) has complete control of Gardez. The forces of governor Padsha Khan Zadran have been driven out of the city," a spokesman for the force told the Afghan Islamic Press news agency. The news agency said the fighting had died down but more than 50 people had been killed and 20 wounded on both sides. The fighting pitted Pashtun tribal forces loyal to Zadran against rival Pashtun forces under Haji Saifullah.
Afghan Islamic Press isn't the greatest source, but if the report is true, that represents a black eye to the Karzai regime. It'll be interesting to see what the reaction is. My guess is that he'll let the situation stand, like he did in Kandahar. That also means there'll be another eruption someplace else.
Posted by: Fred Pruitt 2002-01-31