Afghan Taliban decry radio tower bombing as attack on free speech


KABUL: The Afghan Taliban denounced “American occupying forces” for attacking their Voice of Shariah Radio station in the central province of Ghazni, but the United States denied the charge and said Afghan air force planes had targeted a broadcasting tower.
The “Mujahideen of Islamic Emirate” will “not show restraint regarding such evil enemy actions any more”, the Taliban said of Sunday’s attack which they said involved five U.S. aircraft.
“The claimants of democracy and freedom of speech exposed their true nature and showed that they have absolutely no respect for the views, voice and media of their opposition,” the Taliban, who have hit media targets themselves in the past, said in a statement.
“They only use the slogans of ‘freedom of speech’ to force their own views, culture and colonial agendas on foreign nations.”
In 2016, seven Tolo TV employees were killed by a Taliban suicide attacker who rammed a car bomb into a bus driving them home from the station. The Taliban had warned earlier that they considered journalists legitimate targets.
A spokesman for the NATO-led Resolute Support mission said the Taliban statement “speaks volumes with regards to the capabilities” of the Afghan air force.
“It was two Afghan Air Force A-29s (not five U.S. aircraft) that conducted the strike on a Taliban radio broadcasting tower (not radio station) on June 10,” Lieutenant-Colonel Martin O’Donnell said.
The Taliban, seeking to reimpose strict Islamic law after their 2001 ouster at the hands of U.S.-led troops, announced a surprise ceasefire over the Eid al-Fitr holiday beginning at the end of this week, but said attacks against foreign forces would continue.
Earlier, the government announced a truce for the end-of-Ramadan holiday.
U.S. President Donald Trump in August unveiled a more hawkish military approach to Afghanistan under the Resolute Support mission, including a surge in air strikes, aimed at forcing the Taliban to the negotiating table.