KABUL, March 2: Two mobile phone antennas were destroyed in southern Afghanistan, officials said on Sunday, after Taliban militants threatened to bring down such masts, alleging they are used to locate hideouts.
A first mast was destroyed in the southern province of Kandahar on Friday, four days after the Taliban warned they would attack the technology because it was being used at night to pinpoint rebel bases.
In the new attacks, militants scaled a mast just outside Kandahar city overnight and destroyed equipment, local police officer Ghulam Hazrat said.
“I am sure it was the work of the Taliban,” he told AFP, adding that guards at the facility had escaped unhurt.
Another antenna was destroyed in the neighbouring Helmand province’s Sangin district, a local official told AFP under condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to media.
The police chief for Helmand, Mohammad Hussein Andiwal, confirmed a cellphone tower was destroyed in the area but could not say how.
“We know that a telephone antenna has been destroyed there (Sangin) but we don’t yet know how it was destroyed,” Andiwal told AFP from the provincial capital, Lashkar Gah.
The police chief said that he could not reach his men in the area by cell phone, the normal means of communication, and they had had to use radios.
Both masts belonged to Roshan, Afghanistan’s leading mobile phone provider, the officials said.
Militants used petrol bombs on Friday to attack an antenna in Zhari district, west of the city.
Issuing their warning on Monday, the Taliban also demanded mobile services be halted at night.
Some residents in the area where the first attack was staged said their mobile networks had been down for several hours after the incident.
Five mobile companies operate in Afghanistan and the sector is one of the most successful of the post-Taliban government.
The Taliban were removed in late 2001 for not handing over their Al-Qaeda allies after the September 11 attacks on the United States.
They are waging an insurgency that was at its deadliest last year with more than 6,000 people killed -- most of them rebel fighters.—AFP