updated 2/7/2004 10:49:20 AM ET 2004-02-07T15:49:20

Battles between rival armed factions in northeastern Afghanistan have killed 20 people and wounded 40, state television reported Saturday.

Fighting broke out on Thursday evening near Orgo in Badakhshan province between forces loyal to the district chief and a local militia commander, the report said, without citing sources.

Provincial officials have sent hundreds of soldiers to the area to try to stem the fighting, which the report said was still raging in five different places.

Government officials in Kabul could not immediately be reached for comment.

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