KABUL — A feud that began after one police commander in western Afghanistan was accused of killing the civilian son of another has set off days of clashes, leaving four police officers dead, Afghan officials said.
Fighting between the two sides continued Monday in Maimana, the capital of Faryab province, as officers loyal to each of the commanders fired heavy weapons against one another’s houses in and around the city, local officials said.
Both factions were from different units of the same provincial police force and represented rival political parties.
It was yet another indication of strife within Afghanistan’s shaky coalition government, which combines ethnic-based factions that in some cases have never put aside the civil war they fought in the 1980s and 1990s.
The latest outbreak began Saturday when the head of the Faryab Provincial Police Antiterrorism Department, Ahmad Shah Malang, killed the son of Nizam Qaisari, the police commander from the neighboring district of Qaysar, according to the provincial governor, Sayed Anwar Sadat.
The son, Burhanuddin Qaisari, was a second-year law student at Herat University who had come home to Maimana during school vacation.
Sadat said that Malang killed the student in a city park. When his father, Qaisari, came to retrieve his son’s body with a contingent of armed officers, a gunfight broke out with Malang’s men.
“When his family went to the park to take the body, illegal armed men loyal to Malang opened fire on them,” the governor said.
He said eight police officers from the city force were wounded when they tried to intervene between the two sides.
Then Qaisari returned with reinforcements and attacked Malang’s home; in that battle, a total of four police officers were killed, the governor said.
Malang is a member of the Jamiat-i-Islami party, aligned with the country’s chief executive, Abdullah Abdullah. The Faryab governor and the aggrieved father, Qaisari, belong to the Junbesh-e-Milli party, followers of the first vice-president, Abdul Rashid Dostum.
The enmity between those two parties has an ethnic dimension: Jamiat is largely a Tajik party, and Junbesh is largely Uzbek.