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Karzai Visits Town Captured from Taliban

Karzai Visits Town Captured from Taliban

Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai made an unannounced trip Sunday to Marjah, the former Taliban stronghold recently retaken in an offensive by U.S., British and Afghan forces.

The president met with about 300 local elders in a mosque and asked them to support his government in return for security and reconstruction.

The elders pledged their support, but they also complained to Mr. Karzai about their living conditions, as well as government corruption, the conduct of foreign troops and civilian casualties.

Mr. Karzai was accompanied by the NATO commander in Afghanistan, U.S. General Stanley McChrystal, who did not speak publicly during the two-hour meeting.

Earlier in the day, Afghan officials said a rocket or mortar shell landed, but did not explode, about four kilometers from the presidential delegation.

The Taliban says it carried out the attack. Officials say no one was hurt.

Meanwhile, NATO officials say three foreign troops serving with the allied forces were killed in separate attacks in the south and east of the country. Military statements said that in the south, one soldier was killed by small arms fire and another died from an improvised explosive. In the east, another soldier died from small arms fire.

In the northeast, Afghan officials say fighting between rival militant groups has killed at least 50 people.

Authorities say the fighting between the Taliban and the Hezb-i-Islami erupted Saturday and was continuing Sunday.

There are reports that scores of Hezb-i-Islami militants are now defecting to the Afghan government, but the number of surrendering fighters has not been confirmed.