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Tuesday, 7 May, 2002, 15:38 GMT 16:38 UK
Warning on Afghan factionalism
Canadian troops at Bagram air base
The group is calling for more security to counter armed factions
A report by the United States-based group, Human Rights Watch, says a rise in factional fighting in Afghanistan is threatening its reconstruction.

The problem of warlordism and factional fighting are too widespread to be resolved by ad hoc interventions

Human Rights Watch

The organisation called on the international community to live up to its commitment to ensure peace and stability throughout Afghanistan.

A statement said the group had written to the United Nations Security Council calling for more foreign security forces and greater efforts to disarm factional militias.

It said immediate steps were needed to counter the problems caused by warlords and their supporters.

The warning came as an Afghan tribal council or Shura in the town of Gardez issued an ultimatum to a militia commander to surrender within a week or face war.

More security

Human Rights Watch said there had been several outbreaks of factional fighting in various parts of Afghanistan in recent weeks.

Afghan fighter
'Immediate steps' are needed to disarm factions

The situation in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif was particularly tense with opposing warlords pouring troops and tanks into the city.

"Security arrangements are needed to counter the power of armed factions and create space for a civilian leadership to emerge", said the group's Executive Director Kenneth Roth.

Afghan interim leader Hamid Karzai and senior United Nations officials have publicly called for more international security forces to keep the warlords apart.

But Washington has not supported the expansion of the international force outside Kabul and member countries were reluctant to contribute more troops.

"If the international community doesn't take more effective steps immediately to establish security throughout Afghanistan", Mr Ross said, "the country is likely to return to the rampant human rights abuses and warlordism that characterised the last decade."

Meanwhile, the Shura in the Afghan town of Gardez in eastern Paktia province gave another week to militia commander Padshah Khan Zadran to surrender.

Padshah Khan's forces were involved in fighting in the town two weeks ago in which at least 25 people were killed.

See also:

06 May 02 | Business
Aid donors 'failing Afghanistan'
28 Mar 02 | South Asia
UN to set up Afghan mission
30 Jan 02 | Americas
Karzai asks UN for bigger force
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