Jun. 24–KABUL, Afghanistan — Taliban insurgents warned Monday they will start targeting Afghan journalists unless the media outlets they work for stop broadcasting government-sponsored advertisements speaking out against the group.
The ads, which aim to counter the Taliban’s jihad narrative and encourage the public to report suspected insurgent activity, are part of a broader government campaign endorsed by the U.S.-led military coalition.
The Taliban said it would give radio stations, TV channels and other outlets one week to stop transmitting “enemy actions.” Those who continue doing so will be recognized by the group as military targets who are helping the authorities with intelligence gathering.
“Reporters and staff members will not remain safe,” the insurgents said in a statement.
Media companies across the country will get extra protection in light of the announcement, Defense Ministry spokesman Rohullah Ahmadzai said. He said the ads should continue to be broadcast.
“It’s very clear that such advertisements have helped the government fight terrorism,” Ahmadzai said. “If they weren’t useful we wouldn’t continue to use them.”
Members of NATO’s training mission in Afghanistan have worked with the country’s security forces on disseminating information to help counter the Taliban’s claims and persuade Afghans to help defeat the militants.
The Taliban have targeted Afghan media in the past, but Monday’s threat is the first such overt move by the group directed at those airing government announcements.
Fifteen media workers were killed in Afghanistan last year, making the country the deadliest in the world for journalists, according to Reporters Without Borders.
Zubair Babakarkhail contributed to this report.
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