KANDAHAR, Afghanistan, March 2 (Reuters) - 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.
The Taliban last week ordered operators to switch off their
networks from 5 p.m. until 7 a.m., 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
"Unknown gunmen started a fire and destroyed a Roshan
antenna last night," said Mohammad Asif, a police officer in
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
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
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.
Canada has about 2,500 soldiers based in the Kandahar
region. Ottawa said a Canadian soldier died on Sunday when his
vehicle hit an explosive device.