Networks restore mobile phone services as Afghan truce holds
KABUL: Mobile network operators in Afghanistan were restored across Afghanistan, especially swathes of Taliban-contested areas as a partial truce with the militants held for a second consecutive day.
The Taliban, US and Afghan forces are currently overseeing a week-long “reduction in violence” that kicked off on Saturday.
The commitment has seen fighting drop dramatically and is set to pave the way for an American withdrawal deal to be signed later this week.
“Around 730 cell towers have restarted,” said Naqeebullah Sailab, vice chairman of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of Afghanistan.
“There are towers which started operating after almost five years.”
Two separate officials with knowledge of the country’s telecoms industry in northern Afghanistan also confirmed that mobile networks were being restored in insurgent-hit areas.
The Taliban have long targeted Afghanistan’s private telecom firms, kidnapping engineers, destroying transmission masts and forcing regular coverage blackouts in volatile areas to avoid detection of their fighters.
Afghanistan boasts millions of mobile users in a population of 30 million, with the fast-growing industry employing around 200,000 people and earning strong revenue in an otherwise moribund economy.
Thousands of telecommunication towers, however, are in insurgency-hit areas and vulnerable to attacks. – AFP