Kabul battles rage

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KABUL (Reuter) - Battles raged for a fourth day in the Afghan capital yesterday, leaving dozens dead and more than 1,700 injured in a struggle for power between President Burhanuddin Rabbani and the ex- communist general Abdul Rashid Dostam.

Government jets bombed positions held by fighters loyal to General Dostam and Mr Rabbani's infantry made advances, pushing back the front line in the south of the city, where much of the fighting has been concentrated .

Fighting spread in the north of the country around General Dostam's base of Mazar-e Sharif. The general is backed by Mr Rabbani's arch-foe, the Prime Minister, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.

A Health Ministry spokesman said the number of injured was soaring and hospitals were running out of medical supplies, blood and even food for the wounded. 'We have 1,700 wounded and 54 dead, although for the dead it is too difficult to say how many,' he said.

Thousands of refugees were fleeing the south of the city for safer havens in the north and north-western suburbs.