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31 militants killed in border battle

| Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2005

KABUL -- Government forces battled suspected Taliban rebels in heavy fighting near the Pakistan border, leaving 31 militants dead, the Defense Ministry said Monday.

Provisional results from the Sept. 18 elections are expected in days, with the final tally due Oct. 22. In all, eight candidates have been killed during the campaign and its aftermath -- the latest being minority Hazara candidate Ashraf Ramazan, slain in a drive-by shooting in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif on Sept. 27.

Thousands of Hazaras, who make up some 10 percent of Afghanistan's 25 million people, protested in Kabul and Mazar-e-Sharif, demanding Ramazan's brother take the parliament seat if the dead candidate gets the most votes. Ramazan was seeking one of the 11 seats in the national legislature from the province of Balkh.

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