Gunmen destroy mobile phone tower in Afghan south
Gunmen have destroyed two mobile telephone towers in southern Afghanistan, a police officer said on Sunday, after Taliban insurgents warned operators to shut networks at night or face attacks. ( Reuters )
The Taliban last week ordered operators to switch off their networks from five in the afternoon until seven in the morning, saying foreign troops used mobile phones to track the militants.
Saturday night's attack targeted an antenna belonging to the Roshan mobile company just outside the city of Kandahar. The first raid hit a tower of Areeba, another mobile phone operator, in Kandahar hours after a Taliban ultimatum expired on Thursday.
"Unknown gunmen started a fire and destroyed a Roshan antenna last night," said Mohammad Asif, a police officer in the area.
Mobile phone operators have not commented on the two attacks and the Taliban warning. Ousted from power in 2001, the Taliban militants largely rely on mobile and satellite phones for communicating with each other and the media.
Mobile phone networks are virtually the only means of communication in Afghanistan, a country ravaged by three decades of war.
Four mobile operators, three of them foreign firms, with an estimated investment of several hundred million dollars have sprung up in Afghanistan since the Taliban's removal.
Afghanistan is going through its worst period of violence since U.S.-led and Afghan forces toppled the Taliban in late 2001.
Afghan and international troops are engaged in daily battles with insurgents mainly in the ethnically Pashtun south and east of Afghanistan while Taliban suicide bombers have struck military and civilians targets the length and breadth of the country.
U.S. coalition forces killed several insurgents while searching compounds looking for a Taliban commander in the Garmser district of Helmand in southern Afghanistan, the U.S. military said on Sunday.
The policy of NATO and U.S. coalition forces in Afghanistan is not to release exact figures for Taliban casualties.