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Last Updated: Thursday, 21 June 2007, 08:19 GMT 09:19 UK
Taleban radio station back on air
By Pam O'Toole
BBC News

Mullah Omar
The broadcast included a message from Taleban leader Mullah Omar
A pirate Taleban radio station, Voice of Shariat, or Islamic law, has begun broadcasting again, reports from south-eastern Afghanistan say.

A Taleban spokesman said a half-hour programme was broadcast on Tuesday night and would now be broadcast daily.

The broadcast had a message from the fugitive Taleban leader, Mullah Omar, Koranic verses and criticised the presence of foreign press.

The station closed six years ago with the fall of the Taleban regime.

Local people said the station could be heard in parts of four south-eastern provinces - Paktika, Paktia, Khost and Ghazni.

Weak reception

The sound quality may have been poor, and reception faint, but the content of the latest transmission from the Voice of Shariat was familiar to those who remember the station which used to carry the Taleban's message across Afghanistan.

An Afghan official in Paktia province confirmed the programme could be heard there, but he said reception was weak.

It is not clear where the broadcasts originate from.

Two years ago, the Taleban announced they were relaunching the Voice of Shariat as a pirate radio station from somewhere in their former stronghold of the south.

They said they would use a mobile transmitter to avoid being shut down by American or Afghan forces.

Last year its broadcasts could be heard briefly and intermittently in some southern provinces.

Un-Islamic

But this is thought to be the first time it has been heard in the south east.

The Taleban took over Afghan radio when they swept to power in Kabul in 1996.

They threw out female presenters and banned music, but used radio to broadcast their hardline Islamic view of the world to the rest of the country.

They were tougher on television, outlawing it as un-Islamic.

And they were famously known for hanging television sets.

However, nowadays, the Taleban and their allies are thought to be behind fairly sophisticated propaganda videos circulating in Pakistan and Afghanistan and some Taleban commanders have even allowed Western camera crews to film them.

The Taleban also make extensive use of the internet and have their own internet site.




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