Warring Afghanistan Factions Agree To Cease-fire
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) _ The warring militias of Afghanistan’s president and prime minister announced a cease-fire today after almost a month of inconclusive fighting.
The truce was expected to bring at least a temporary halt to the battle in the Tagab Valley, 40 miles northeast of Kabul, where President Burhanuddin Rabbani’s forces and Prime Minister Gulbuddin Hekmatyar’s fighters have fought to a virtual stalemate.
More than 200 people, most of them civilians, were killed since the fighting began Nov. 1, according to various estimates.
Afghanistan’s feuding Islamic factions have signed repeated cease-fires over the past two years. None has lasted long, and no one predicted that the latest agreement would bring a permanent end to the civil war.
The most immediate benefit could be the restoration of electricity to Kabul, which has been without power all month. Hekmatyar’s forces hold the power generating facilities for Kabul, which is mostly controlled by Rabbani.
The cease-fire will also likely mean that Hekmatyar’s troops will allow civilian vehicles to travel more freely on the main highway in and out of the capital. During the fighting, Hekmatyar’s men halted convoys and stole food from United Nations trucks.
Mohammed Arsala Rahmani, the second deputy prime minister, announced the cease-fire at the presidential palace following two hours of talks between Rabbani and representatives of Hekmatyar’s Hezb-e-Islami faction.
The Tagab Valley sits between bases controlled by the rival groups.
Hekmatyar’s forces appear to have gained a bit of territory. But Rabbani’s fores still hold the village of Tagab in the center of the valley.
Afghanistan’s Islamic factions ousted the Communist government last year, then immediately began fighting among themselves in and around Kabul.
About 10,000 people, mostly civilians, have died in the fighting, and several different groups control parts of the city. Various warlords control the countryside, which is mostly peaceful.