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Taliban Warns Phone Companies to Shut Down Their Coverage in Ghazni

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Taliban Ghazni
Members of the Taliban gather in Ghazni province, Afghanistan. voa
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Ghazni, Washington October 11: Taliban militants have ordered mobile phone companies to shut down their networks at dark in central Ghazni province, provincial police authorities told VOA.

In a bid to mitigate risks, the insurgent group has asked telecom operators in Ghazni province to halt operations from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. in order to make it difficult for the Afghan forces to get intelligence and tips on militants through mobile phones.

The insurgent group has destroyed several telecom towers in the restive province over the last three days.

“The recent uptick in airstrikes against militants is causing increasing casualties in Taliban ranks. The militants want to destroy telecom towers to disturb communications,” Fahim Amarkhil, a police spokesperson in Ghazni told VOA.

The Taliban has said Afghan and U.S. forces use the network signals to locate the group’s fighters.

In addition to Ghazni, the insurgent group has asked mobile phone companies to halt their networks’ coverage in several other provinces as well, an official of a major cell phone company in Kabul told VOA on the condition of anonymity.

The official added that in many cases, the operators have no option but to comply with what the insurgents want.

The disruption in telecom services have angered customers in Ghazni who rely on mobile phone as their only means of communication. The residents fear that if the government does not address the issue in a timely manner, the telecom companies may end their operation in the province.

“Some time ago, the Taliban had warned the telecom companies to pay taxes to the Taliban, not to the government, and the issue was resolved,” Jamil Weqar, an activist in Ghazni told VOA. “But this time, they destroyed the towers which has created many problems [for customers],” he added.

The telecommunication sector in Afghanistan has made tremendous progress following the fall of the Taliban and the establishment of a new government in the post-2001 era. With little to no access to cell phones and the internet 15 years ago, the country now has more than 20 million mobile phone subscribers, covering more than 85 percent of the population.

New strategy

The communication blackout comes as the new U.S. strategy in Afghanistan is increasing military pressure on militant groups across the country. The new plan includes a more intensive use of airpower against militants.

The latest official data shows U.S. forces dropped 751 bombs in September against the Taliban and militants linked to the so-called Islamic State terror group in Afghanistan. This is the largest number of bombs dropped on militants in a single month since 2012.

“This increase can be attributed to the president’s strategy to more proactively target extremist groups that threaten the stability and security of the Afghan people,” according to a summary from the U.S. Air Force’s Central Command.

U.S.-backed Afghan forces are trying to regain control of areas and districts lost to the Taliban across the country.

The government has said it controls nearly two-thirds of the country’s 407 districts. Taliban reportedly control 33 districts, less than 10 percent of the national total. Around 116 districts are “contested” areas, according to a recent U.S. military assessment. (voa)

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The Afghanistan Elections

This election saw people casting thier votes with the help of biometric systems.

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Afghan Elections
An Afghan woman shows her inked finger after casting her vote at a polling station during the Parliamentary elections in Kabul, Afghanistan.VOA

By Vishvi Gupta

Afghanistan’s parliamentary elections have been eventful with the threat of the Taliban’s attack and the constant violence and chaos that has followed and continues in the country. Out of 8.8. million registered people, 3 million people actually castes their votes in the ballot. The biggest turnout was recorded in Kabul.

The Taliban’s Militant have urged people not to vote since they see this process as an outsider’s attempt to further control the country. Recently, A candidate of parliamentary elections, Omar Zwak was killed in a bombing attack. The Taliban has since claimed the responsibility of this and many other explosions.

These are the first parliamentary elections since 2010 in Afghanistan that has been half seized by the Taliban. The US-backed government is full of corruption and the citizen’s of the country do not expect a fair election.

Afghan election
An Afghan woman casts her vote during parliamentary elections at a polling station in Kabul, Afghanistan. VOA

The United Nations have urged people to vote and exercise their ‘constitutional right to vote’. This election also saw people casting their votes with the help of biometric systems that posed a definite obstruction in the process of voting since the trained officials didn’t show up during the voting.

The results of the poll is expected to be released in mid-November.