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Airstrikes Destroy IS Afghan Radio, Kill 29 Militants

FILE - An Afghan shopkeeper listens to Islamic State Radio at his shop in Jalalabad, capital of Nangarhar province, Afghanistan, Jan. 10, 2016.

Authorities in Afghanistan said Tuesday that airstrikes conducted with the support of the United States in a restive eastern region have destroyed an Islamic State radio station along with its Internet communications and other facilities.

The air raids also killed 29 Islamic State fighters, including five staff at the so-called “Voice of Caliphate” radio in the province of Nangahar, a provincial spokesman, Attaullah Khogyani told VOA while releasing details of Monday afternoon’s military action.

He said the attack took place in a mountainous area of the district of Achin, where IS has established its headquarters and from where the terrorist group has been trying to expand its influence and stage attacks elsewhere in Afghanistan.

Broadcasts silenced

The Afghan Defense Ministry confirmed the airstrikes immediately silenced the IS broadcasts.

Officials and residents in Nangarhar say the Islamic State FM radio station had been airing two-hour daily programs over the past three months. But the broadcasts have stopped since Monday evening, they say.

A U.S. military spokesman, Col. Michael Lawhorn confirmed to VOA it conducted two counterterrorism strikes in Achin. “For operational security reasons, we cannot discuss details of the counter-terrorism operations,” he added.

IS radio said in a tweet: “The voice of Khilafah of the Islamic state strongly rejects the reports of the puppet regime of Kabul that the radio has been destroyed."

Border area

The radio station, operated from a mobile transmitter in a mountainous Afghan-Pakistan border area, has terrorized the region for two months. First broadcasting in Pashto, the FM station added Dari language broadcasts to its lineup last week.

The broadcasts, which ran daily, included anti-government propaganda, invitations to join IS, threats against government employees and interviews with IS fighters.

The Afghan government tried several times but failed to take the broadcasts off the air. According to the ministry’s spokesperson, Dawlat Waziri, security forces silenced the radio station for brief periods twice before.

Local resident Abdul Qayum told VOA that warplanes carried out heavy bombardments overnight in the Achin district, which borders Pakistan. He added that the radio broadcasts went down after the strikes.

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