Taliban militants have attacked a telecom tower in southern Afghanistan, the second such assault in two days, after warning phone companies to shut down the towers at night.
Militants burned the base station of a tower in Kandahar city late Saturday owned by the Roshan company, said Qarim Agha, a police officer. Roshan declined to comment.
A Taliban spokesman said last week that militants would blow up towers across Afghanistan if mobile phone companies did not switch off their signals overnight. The militants fear US and other foreign troops are using mobile phone signals to track insurgents and launch attacks against them.
The Taliban destroyed a tower along the main highway in the Zhari district of Kandahar province Friday. That tower was owned by Areeba, one of Afghanistan’s four mobile phone companies.
Militants have threatened mobile phone companies in the past, accusing them of collusion with the US and other foreign military forces.
The destruction of the cell towers will affect thousands of Afghan phone users, but it will also affect the Taliban, because militant fighters rely on mobile phones to communicate and coordinate their operations.
Communications experts say the US military can use satellites and other means to pick up mobile phone signals without the phone company’s help. Mobile phones periodically send signals to the network even when they are not making calls.
The US has said it killed more than 50 mid- and top-level Taliban leaders over the last year. Many military raids that target specific leaders are conducted at night.
Mobile phones were introduced in Afghanistan after the fall of the Taliban in 2001. They have become the principal means of communication and one of the fastest-growing and most profitable sectors in the country’s economy. (AP)
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