Ghor police chief Amar Khuda said fighting erupted in Ghalmin, near the provincial capital of Chaghcharan, on Thursday when US-backed central government officials attempted to disarm a local militia.

Khuda said the militia is run by General Zaman Khan and General Ahmad Khan, both of whom refuse to hand over their weapons and command about 3000 soldiers.

The US military in Kabul could not immediately confirm the fatality.

Two-month problem

Both generals had been involved in clashes in June when another commander forced them to flee Chaghcharan.

They were then removed from their positions by the central government to appease local opposition, but have yet to lay down their arms.

Khuda said his forces there were now under "siege". "We have informed the authorities in Kabul to come and rescue us from this siege," he told journalists by telephone.

No significant disarmament

The 20,000-strong US military has appointed advisers to the Afghan National Army to help train the fledgling force which now numbers around 12,000 troops.

Never the less, the nationwide disarmament drive has largely failed to disband these private armies, many of which are led by senior government officials.

More than 900 people have been killed in attacks in the last year, most of them related to remnants of the ousted Taliban and their allies.