Taliban rebels in Afghanistan have issued an ultimatum to the country's mobile network operators to shut down cellphone coverage at night—or else. The reason for this is not because of a desire by the medieval revivalists/"moral" "guardians"/warmongering nutcases/nasty little freedom-killing, women-bashing, beard-obsessed terrorists —call 'em what you want—to put a stop to potential cellphone naughtiness, but for military reasons.

The Taliban, which wants the networks to go dark between 5pm and 7am each night, is convinced that Allied troops are using the cellphone networks to track down its remaining fighters. It has told the four companies responsible for the mobile networks—Etisalat, Areeba, Roshan and the Afghan Wireless Communication Company—that if its demands are not met, then great vengeance will be wreaked (or something.)


With a largely defunct landline network, Afghanis rely heavily on their cellphones—not least the Taliban, who use theirs to contact the media as well as co-ordinating their attacks. Were the Taliban to succeed, it would be a blow for the fledgling democracy. Ironically, coalition forces rely on satellites to locate their foes, not the cellphone companies, three of whom have their head offices situated outside Afghanistan. [Ars Technica]