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Taliban Warns Afghan Media Against Airing Anti-Insurgency Ads

FILE - FILE - A news anchor is seen on camera during a broadcast at Tolo News studio, in Kabul, Afghanistan, Oct. 18, 2015.

The Taliban has given radio stations and television channels in Afghanistan one week to stop broadcasting government-funded advertisements against the Islamist insurgent group.

In a statement issued Monday, the Taliban warned media groups that refuse to cease the “propaganda” campaign will be considered “military targets” and not independent news and journalists as well as other staff working for them will not be safe.

The advertisements call on Afghans to inform authorities if they see any suspicious Taliban activities.

A local media advocacy group, Nai, denounced the insurgent threat as a violation of human and freedom rights, demanding the Afghan government take urgent steps to ensure security of media groups and their staff.

The Taliban has previously staged deadly attacks against media groups in Afghanistan, a country which remains one of the deadliest in the world for journalists.

Afghan media organizations are celebrated as one of the success stories since a U.S.-led military coalition ousted the Taliban from power 17 years ago for sheltering al-Qaida leaders accused of plotting the September 11, 2001, attacks on America.

Dozens of private television and radio stations have since emerged in the country and many Afghan journalists have died covering the war and in suicide bombings.

The Taliban’s threat comes as it prepares to hold the next round of nearly yearlong peace negotiations with the United States later this week aimed at finding a political solution to the Afghan war.

Critics have been urging Washington to seek guarantees from the insurgents that the Taliban would not undermine gains Afghanistan has made in recent years, particularly the rights of women, freedom of speech and education for all.

The Islamist group had banned female education while they were ruling the country before being ousted.