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Afghan Member of Parliament Killed

A newly elected member of Afghanistan's first parliament in more than 30 years was killed Sunday in a gun battle.

Senior officials in Afghanistan say Esmatullah Muhabet, who was killed Sunday, was a well-known warlord in eastern Afghanistan.

Government spokesman, Yousef Stanekzai, says Mr. Muhabet, also known as Commander Esmat, died when a local dispute in Laghman province turned into a gun battle.

"After a brief argument fighting broke out among the supporters of both sides. As a result, Commander Esmat was killed. Security forces cordoned off the area and have launched [an] investigation," said Mr. Stanekzai.

The dispute between rival factions was reportedly over a suspicious fire at a local firewood shop. Several of Mr. Muhabet's militiamen were also killed during the violence.

Mr. Muhabet earned his reputation as a fierce fighter against Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s.

He was detained by U.S. coalition forces in Afghanistan on suspicion of having links to the ousted hard-line Islamic Taleban regime. But he was released shortly before September's elections, in which he easily won a seat in the newly established parliament while maintaining his own private militia in Laghman province.

Officials insist his death is not related to his position in parliament or to the Taleban insurgency opposed to democracy in the country.

Lawmakers are due to convene later this month. It will be the first parliamentary after session after more than 30 years of war.