Few hopes for Kabul's new truce

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The Independent Online
KABUL (AP) - Afghanistan's capital limped back to life yesterday as a ceasefire between rebels and government forces got off to a shaky start after a month of shellfire. Few residents believed the ceasefire agreed to a day earlier would hold.

The government was reporting sporadic clashes with renegade troops from the fundamentalist Hizbe Islami faction. A Defence Ministry spokesman said troops and rebel forces fought south of Kabul late on Saturday.

Within hours of signing the peace pact, the Hizbe Islami leader, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, and President Burhanuddin Rabbani argued over terms of the agreement. Mr Hekmatyar wants the government to expel its militia allies from Kabul, but the government said the Uzbek-dominated militia has been absorbed into the army. Mr Hekmatyar also wants elections within two months but the government says it will take a year.