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Taliban threat shuts mobile networks in Afghanistan's Helmand province

March 24, 2011 - London

All mobile companies in Afghanistan's Helmand province have switched of their networks after a Taliban threat.

Helmand has been at the centre of Nato's effort to fight the Taliban.

On Tuesday, President Karzai announced that his forces would take over security from the coalition in Lashkar Gah, the provincial capital, from July.

The BBC reports that a handful of mobile companies are providing vital services to the people of Helmand. Landlines provide only one percent of telephone services in the province.

It is for the first time that militants have completely closed down the telephone network in Helmand. It is not clear when they might reopen.

The Taliban says their enemies used mobile phones to track their communications.

They have enforced similar mobile phone closures in the past, but only during certain times of the day, the BBC reports.

Militants say that they will blow up the mobile phone masts of companies defying their ban.

Already two phone masts have been burnt down in Helmand belonging to mobile phone companies' accused of not implementing the ban.


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