Taliban militants threatened to blow up telecom towers across Afghanistan if mobile phone companies do not switch off their signals for a 10-hour stretch starting at dusk.
Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujaheed said Monday that the US and other foreign troops in the country are using mobile phone signals to track down the insurgents and launch attacks against them.
The Taliban have “decided to give a three-day deadline to all mobile phone companies to stop their signals from 5 pm to 3 am in order to stop the enemies from getting intelligence through mobile phones and to stop Taliban and civilian casualties,” Mujaheed told The Associated Press by telephone from an undisclosed location.
“If those companies do not stop their signal within three days, the Taliban will target their towers and their offices,” he said.
There are four mobile phone operators in Afghanistan, but employees at the companies would not immediately comment.
Mobile phones were introduced to 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.
Militants have threatened mobile phone companies in the past, accusing them of collusion with the US and other foreign military forces.
Communications experts say the US military has the ability, using satellites and other means, to pick up cell phone signals without the phone company’s help.
Mujaheed said the Taliban have contacted all the companies, but none of them agreed to the militants’ demands. His claim could not be independently verified. (AP)
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