South Asia News
Taliban force mobile networks to shut down in Afghan provinces
Aug 3, 2011, 14:54 GMT
Kabul - Taliban militants have warned Afghan mobile networks to shut down operations in the southern province of Kandahar for more than 12 hours during the night, they said in a statement Wednesday.
All mobile phone companies were instructed to stop their usual activities and antenna operations from 7 pm to 6 am (1630-0330 GMT) in Kandahar province starting Thursday, the Taliban statement said.
The Taliban threatened to target the mobile companies' network towers throughout the country if they disobeyed, adding that they would be considered as rebels.
'Our enemy is taking intelligence advantages from mobile networks (to use) against our faithful people and the mujahideen,' the insurgent group said, explaining their reason for the shutdown.
Some districts in Kandahar already face blackouts during the night. The Taliban have also shut down mobile networks overnight in some districts in neighboring Helmand and Zabul provinces.
Afghanistan's five mobile operators, one of which is state-run, provide vital communication services throughout the country. More than ten million Afghans have cellphone access.
Some telecoms companies denied to comment, while others were unavailable.
'We are aware of the situation and we are looking into it,' said ISAF spokesman Peidro deAngelo.
The Kandahar governor's spokesman Zulmai Ayobi said they did not know about the blackout. The telephone companies also had not shared any concern of this kind, he said.
'The Taliban will not be able to shut down networks in government-held territory, but they might be able to shut it down in one or two districts of the province,' Ayobi said.
'The people of Kandahar have been suffering with this problem for the past three days and we were told it was due to technical problems,' the spokesman said. 'We will talk with the companies.'
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