Fresh fighting in eastern Afghanistan
By Kamal Hyder
GARDEZ, Afghanistan (CNN) -- Details are emerging about fresh fighting in eastern Afghanistan, an area torn by factional rivalries among its ethnic Pashtuns.
The clashes erupted after the acting governor of Paktia province ordered a rival leader out of the town of Gardez.
A delegate to the Bonn summit, Syed Hamid Gailani heads a convoy that's been touring the region to build support for the new Afghanistan and to unite Pashtuns who are split among three factions.
Greater Paktia, which was split into three provinces by the Taliban, is considered the heartland of the Pashtun people.
But Gailani has irked the region's acting governor, Bacha Khan, by publicly challenging his authority.
"We have determined that Khan was working against the interests of the Pashtun nation at a time when five Pashtun provinces of Afghanistan have shown keen interest in supporting the forces of peace," Gailani told CNN.
The fighting on Wednesday began as the "peace convoy" of Afghan leaders led by Gailani was holding meetings in Gardez.
Khan issued an 11 a.m. (1830 GMT) deadline for the peace convoy to leave the region or else he would capture Gardez by force.
In a bid to avert a military confrontation, tribal leader Sulayman Zai, whose forces lie between Khowst and Gardez, had offered to stand as a buffer between Khan and the peace convoy.
Local residents are reportedly fighting troops deployed on the town's outskirts.
Gailani signed the Bonn Agreement last month on behalf of the Pashtun delegation and his father is widely regarded as the Pashtun spiritual leader.
The Bonn Agreement that Gailani signed helped establish Afghanistan's current interim government, which will rule the country for six months until a more permanent political structure can be decided.
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