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Airstrikes destroy IS radio station in Afghanistan

Feb 2, 2015

Jalal Abad — U.S. airstrikes have destroyed an Islamic State-operated radio station in a remote part of eastern Afghanistan, officials said Tuesday.

"Voice of the Caliphate" radio was destroyed by two U.S. airstrikes, according to a U.S. military official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief media on the subject.

According to the AP, Army Col. Mike Lawhorn, spokesman for the U.S.-NATO mission in Afghanistan, said U.S. forces conducted two "counter-terrorism airstrikes" late Monday in Achin district, in the eastern Nangarhar province, without elaborating.

An IS affiliate has emerged in Afghanistan over the past year, with a military presence in districts near the border with Pakistan. The radio station was broadcasting illegally across Nangarhar, calling on fighters to join the group and threatening journalists in the provincial capital, Jalalabad.

Afghan officials had said they believed the broadcasts were coming from mobile facilities that could be moved easily back and forth across the mountainous border.

The spokesman for the Nangarhar governor, Attaullah Khogyani, said the strikes had also killed 21 IS supporters, including five who were working for the radio station.

The station was set up in late 2015, following months of fierce fighting between IS group militants and the Taliban, who also maintain a significant presence in the region. Although IS and the Taliban both want to impose a harsh version of Islamic rule, they are bitterly divided over leadership and strategy, with the Taliban narrowly focused on Afghanistan and IS bent on establishing a worldwide caliphate.

Radio is a powerful medium in Afghanistan, where most people do not have televisions and only 10 percent of the population has access to the Internet. Nearly everyone has access to radio, with around 175 stations operating across the country.