Kunduz (Afghanistan): Up to 60 militants
and 19 civilians may have been killed in bloody clashes
between rival Islamist militant groups in northern
Afghanistan, a police official said on Sunday.
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 yesterday confirmed the clashes, but was not
able to give casualty figures.
"We have intelligence reports that 60 fighters -- 40
(from) Hezb-i-Islami and 20 Taliban -- have died so far. Our
reports indicate that up to 19 civilians were also killed,"
Andarabi said to a news agency.
The Taliban is the main militant group behind an
increasingly deadly insurgency to topple the Western-backed
government of President Hamid Karzai and force out about
121,000 US and NATO troops stationed in Afghanistan.
Smaller militant outfits are 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 turned warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, is
the second biggest militant group.