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Afghan Governor flees

HERAT (AFGHANISTAN), JUNE 18. A rebel commander has taken control of most of a remote Afghan provincial capital after clashes in which 18 people were killed or wounded and the Governor was forced to flee, combatants said today.

The upheaval in the central province of Ghor presents a fresh crisis for the President, Hamid Karzai, and his efforts to impose his authority in the provinces by disarming regional militias seen as a threat to September elections.

It comes just as he was expected back from an overseas trip that included a visit to Washington in which he and the United States President, George W. Bush, gave what many analysts saw a overly rosy assessment of Afghanistan's progress since U.S.-led forces overthrew the Taliban in late 2001.

The Ghor police chief, General Zaman, said commander Abdul Salaam Khan's forces captured most of the provincial capital of Chaghcharan overnight. Mr. Khan, speaking from Chaghcharan, said the city was under his control.

The Ghor Governor, Ibrahim Malikzada, said he had taken refuge in Herat, the main city to the west of his remote and rugged province. — AP

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