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Taleban And Opposition Fight In Afghanistan - 2001-09-24


More heavy fighting has been reported between forces of Afghanistan's ruling Taleban and the anti-Taleban Northern Alliance.

The opposition said Sunday that it has killed at least 60 Taleban fighters and captured the town of Zari in northern Afghanistan.

A Taleban official told the French Press Agency that fighting is still in progress and the opposition has advanced.

Meanwhile, London's Sunday Times newspaper says members of Britain's Special Air Service are in Afghanistan, seeking intelligence on Osama bin Laden's whereabouts. The paper says the troops were in a brief firefight with Taleban troops late Friday near the Afghan capital, Kabul.

The French Press Agency says officials from Britain's defense ministry denied the Times report.

Elsewhere in Afghanistan there are reports of Taleban forces preparing for war -- building bunkers, installing anti-aircraft batteries and distributing weapons in border areas to defend against possible attack.

Reports from both Kabul (the capital) and Kandahar say weapons are being distributed to civilians in several southern provinces.

United Nations relief workers say they are preparing for more than a million refugees should the United States launch a military strike. Thousands of Afghans have already fled the country despite efforts by neighboring Pakistan and Iran to close their borders.

Sunday, U-S Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld confirmed that Washington lost contact with an unmanned reconnaissance plane over Afghanistan. Saturday, the Taleban claimed it shot down a spy plane in the northern part of the country. Mr. Rumsfeld said contact is lost with such planes "from time to time." He said he had no reason to believe the plane was shot down.

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