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10 die in clash between Afghan army and police

Fighting between Afghan soldiers and police in a tense province in southern Afghanistan killed two military commanders and up to eight policemen before U.S. troops and helicopters intervened, officials said Saturday.

It was not clear why the Afghan soldiers and police _ both loyal to President Hamid Karzai's U.S.-backed government _ clashed on Friday or who initiated fire.

During the five-hour battle, dozens of men fired rockets and heavy weapons in a residential area of Geriesh district, 90 miles west of Kandahar, the former stronghold of the Taliban regime, Haji Pir Mohammed, a deputy provincial governor, said.

Police chief Haji Abdul Qadoos said eight policemen died in the fighting, but gave no other details. Seventeen officers were taken away by soldiers, he said.

The fighting stopped only after U.S. troops and helicopters were requested by provincial authorities to help them control the situation, Mohammed said.