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AFGHAN GROUPS AGREE TO HALT FIGHTING

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Rival Afghan guerrilla factions fighting for control of the new Islamic government agreed yesterday to abandon combat as a means of solving their disputes.

The agreement, negotiated by a neutral guerrilla party, created a peacekeeping force that will interpose itself between the rival factions. It also banished from the interim government all high-ranking members of the former communist regime.

But the understanding does not address a string of political wrangles that have divided guerrilla factions led by Islamic fundamentalist Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and Defense Minister Ahmed Shah Masoud.

Forces loyal to Mr. Hekmatyar and Mr. Masoud have been locked in a tense standoff since the collapse of the Soviet-installed Najibullah government in late April. Clashes between the two factions have left scores dead and wounded.

While it did not mention names, the agreement said forces from the two sides will withdraw from battle positions around Kabul and agree to "solve all issues through peaceful negotiations."

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