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Afghan Assassination Triggers Factional Fighting

In Afghanistan, the assassination of a cabinet minister has triggered factional fighting in the western portion of the country, killing as many as 100 people.

Afghan officials say Civil Aviation Minister Mirwais Sadiq was traveling in the provincial capital, Herat, with his bodyguards when unknown gunmen attacked their car with a rocket. The assault killed the minister, who was the son of the powerful provincial governor Ismail Khan. Two of the bodyguards were also killed.

It's not clear who carried out the attack, but a spokesman for Governor Khan has blamed fighters loyal to a local commander, Zahir Naybzada. The incident has sparked deadly clashes in city, where rival factions are reportedly using machine guns, rockets and tanks.

Commander Naybzada denied killing the minister in an ambush. He is reported as saying that Mr. Sadiq was killed after breaking into his residence.

In Kabul, on official statement said President Hamid Karzai was "deeply shocked" by the killing of the minister. It says the president has ordered an investigation and appropriate action to be taken against those responsible. The government also has ordered newly U.S.-trained Afghan National Army soldiers deployed from the capital to try to end the deadly fighting in Herat.

Civil Aviation Minister Said was the third cabinet member to be killed since President Karzai's government came to power to replace the Islamic Taleban in late 2001. Mr. Sadiq's predecessor, Abdul Rahman was assassinated in early 2002 at Kabul's main airport. A few months later, Vice President Haji Abdul Qadir was shot dead outside his office.