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Taliban blow up phone tower in Afghanistan, fearing a technological betrayal

Taliban blow up phone tower in Afghanistan, fearing a technological betrayal

Taliban militants blew up a telecom tower Friday in southern Afghanistan following a warning to phone companies to shut down the towers at night or face attack.
The militants fear U.S. and other foreign troops are using mobile phone signals to track insurgents and launch attacks against them. A Taliban spokesman on Monday said militants would blow up towers across Afghanistan if the companies did not switch off their signals overnight.
Insurgents made good on that threat Friday, destroying a tower along the main highway in the Zhari district of Kandahar province, said Niaz Mohammad Serhadi, the top government official in Zhari.
The tower was owned by Areeba, one of four cellular companies in Afghanistan. Company officials could not immediately be reached for comment.
Phone companies moved into remote areas of Afghanistan after talks with tribal elders, who asked for the towers to be built, said Abdul Hadi Hadi, spokesman for the Telecommunications Ministry.
"When they destroy any tower, it shows direct enmity to the people of that area. I don't think the destruction of the towers has any direct effect on the government. It is the people who suffer," he said.
Thousands of customers will be affected by the tower attack, Serhadi said. Police have increased security around other phone towers, he said.
Militants have threatened mobile phone companies in the past, accusing them of collusion with the U.S. and other foreign military forces.
Communications experts say the U.S. military has the ability, using satellites and other means, to pick up cell phone signals without the phone company's help. Cell phones periodically send signals to the network even when they are not making calls.
The U.S. has said it has killed more than 50 mid- and top-level Taliban leaders over the last year.
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.


Updated : 2021-02-27 03:15 GMT+08:00