KHOJA KOTKAI, Afghanistan – Afghanistan's interim government dispatched a governor from the capital Sunday to broker a truce between rival commanders whose troops battled for two days in the hills west of Kabul.
The valley around Khoja Kotkai, 30 miles west of the capital, was quiet Sunday when the governor of Kabul, the province surrounding the capital of the same name, visited with several truckloads of soldiers.
"I was appointed by the interim government to negotiate an end to this problem," said Mullah Taj Mohammad. "We are going to talk to both sides."
No governor has been appointed in Wardak province, where a turf battle erupted Friday between two ethnic Pashtun commanders.
It was unclear what sparked the fighting between Gen. Zafar Uddin and Ghulam Rohani Nangialai, but Mohammad said it posed no threat to interim leader Hamid Karzai's fragile administration as it tries to build peace after 23 years of war.
"It's an internal problem between these two commanders, nothing more," Mohammad said. "Neither one of them is fighting against the government."
Uddin said his troops were advancing through the hills Sunday but had met no resistance from Nangialai's forces.
He said his troops had taken over two nearby districts, Said Abad and Shak, since Saturday night. Both areas had been abandoned by Nangialai's retreating soldiers.
Uddin said 42 of Nangialai's troops had been captured along with over 70 guns and hordes of ammunition since the fighting began. Nobody was killed on either side, he added, but two of his own troops were injured.
Nangialai could not immediately be reached for comment.
Karzai's government has struggled to maintain security in the fractious nation since it took over in December, soon after the fall of the Islamic extremist Taliban in a U.S.-led war.
International peacekeepers patrol the capital, but the rest of Afghanistan is the realm of local warlords, who maintain regional security with their own forces.
The latest fighting came just days before Afghanistan's deposed king was expected to return from exile to convene a loya jirga, or traditional grand council, that will select a new government in June. An Italian Foreign Ministry official said Mohammad Zaher Shah, who lives in Rome, was due back in Afghanistan in the middle of the week.