Fighting resumed early Friday between an Iranian-backed rebel group and pro-Saudi rivals after a new cease-fire collapsed in this capital weary of war.
The new caretaker Islamic government sent in loyal rebel and militia forces to intervene in the dispute. But those forces came under attack.Most experts say the government of ex-rebels, which replaced Communist rule in late April after 16 years of civil war, may not be strong enough to enforce any imposed cease-fire.
The opposing sides are Hezb-e-Wahadat and Ittehad-e-Islami. Hezb-e-Wahadat, a coalition of eight small parties supported by Tehran, represents Afghanistan's Shiite minority. Ittehad-e-Islami is aligned with Saudi Arabia and belongs to the Sunni sect of Islam that has dominated Afghanistan for three centuries.
The sides signed a second truce late Thursday. But within hours a fight between two sentries sparked a fourth day of intense fighting. The rival forces lobbed rockets and mortars at each other's positions in densely populated areas of western Kabul, setting some houses ablaze and residents fleeing. Doctors said at least 60 people were wounded.
Defense Minister Ahmed Shah Masood deployed pro-government militia forces to the battle zones, but they came under fire as they tried to separate the two sides.
More than 100 people have been killed and hundreds more wounded in the fighting, which has also destroyed hundreds of homes and businesses and damaged the Red Cross hospital. Each side has also seized hundreds of civilians off the streets and are holding them hostage.
"We want peace but there are others who don't," said Hezb-e-Wahadat spokesman Mohemmed Hasan.
Hezb-e-Wahadat has blamed renegade guerrilla chief Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, who is close to Ittehad-e-Islami leader Abdul Rasool Sayyaf, for instigating the attack to discredit the coalition and its demands for a greater role in the new Islamic leadership.