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Afghan troops sent to calm fighting

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KABUL, Afghanistan -- Hundreds of U.S.-trained Afghan troops were headed to a remote province Thursday in an effort to contain fresh factional violence that threatened the country's first post-Taliban elections, officials said.

Troops loyal to northern strongman Abdul Rashid Dostum clashed earlier this week with a rival commander's forces in Faryab province, but Interior Minister Ali Ahmad Jalali declined to discuss possible casualties.

The government was preparing to send some 750 Afghan National Army soldiers to the area although sporadic fighting had eased overnight, Jalali said.

"The fighting was in several places ... but they were not such big battles," Jalali told a news conference. "It was between the militia commanders and today the national army soldiers will go to Faryab."

It was calm in the provincial capital Maymana, some 260 miles northwest of Kabul, he added.

Reporters at Kabul airport saw some 150 army troops in trucks and pickups waiting near a transport plane. Defense Ministry officials said they were asking the American military to fly them to Faryab.

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