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Taliban extends mobile shutdown order

Militant gunmen still battery removal challenged

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The Taliban has now ordered mobile operators to shutdown daytime access to their networks in the Afghan province of Ghazni. The hard-line Islamic militia says it's annoyed that wireless signals are being used to locate its insurgent gunmen.

"We have informed mobile companies operating in Ghazni to turn off their signals during the daytime now as it endangers the lives of our fighters," a Taliban spokesman told Reuters. "We want the companies to cut off their signal for 10 days from now."

The Taliban has already ordered Afghanistan's five mobile operators - which moved after US-led forces invaded in 2001 - to turn off their networks across the country when the sun goes down. In the south, operators have actually obeyed this nighttime order - at least in part - after gunmen started destroying their towers. But in the more peaceful north, towers remain switched on around-the-clock.

Taliban insurgents have only recently set up shop in Ghazni, which sits on the Kabul-Kandahar Highway, between the country's two largest cities. It's unclear why Taliban gunmen don't just remove their cellphone batteries to avoid being tracked. NATO and Afghan officials tell Reuters that the militants want those mobile networks shut off so that the locals can't rat them out with phone calls. ®

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