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Lt. Col. Joshua Thiel speaks with international and Afghan media at an outpost in eastern Afghanistan, Jul. 7, 2018. The Taliban have announced they will start targeting Afghan media outlets that transmit government-sponsored anti-Taliban announcements.

Lt. Col. Joshua Thiel speaks with international and Afghan media at an outpost in eastern Afghanistan, Jul. 7, 2018. The Taliban have announced they will start targeting Afghan media outlets that transmit government-sponsored anti-Taliban announcements. (Amy Forsythe/U.S. Navy)

Lt. Col. Joshua Thiel speaks with international and Afghan media at an outpost in eastern Afghanistan, Jul. 7, 2018. The Taliban have announced they will start targeting Afghan media outlets that transmit government-sponsored anti-Taliban announcements.

Lt. Col. Joshua Thiel speaks with international and Afghan media at an outpost in eastern Afghanistan, Jul. 7, 2018. The Taliban have announced they will start targeting Afghan media outlets that transmit government-sponsored anti-Taliban announcements. (Amy Forsythe/U.S. Navy)

Afghan media and local community members document the arrival of Army Gen. John Nicholson, then-Resolute Support Mission commander, during his visit to the provincial governor's compound in Kunduz Province, Afghanistan, July 5, 2018. The Taliban have announced they will start targeting Afghan media outlets that transmit government-sponsored anti-Taliban announcements. 

Sharida Jackson/U.S. Air Force

Afghan media and local community members document the arrival of Army Gen. John Nicholson, then-Resolute Support Mission commander, during his visit to the provincial governor's compound in Kunduz Province, Afghanistan, July 5, 2018. The Taliban have announced they will start targeting Afghan media outlets that transmit government-sponsored anti-Taliban announcements. Sharida Jackson/U.S. Air Force (Sharida Jackson/U.S. Air Force)

KABUL, Afghanistan — Taliban insurgents warned Monday they will start targeting Afghan journalists unless the media outlets they work for stop broadcasting government-sponsored advertisements speaking out against the group.

The ads, which aim to counter the Taliban’s jihad narrative and encourage the public to report suspected insurgent activity, are part of a broader government campaign endorsed by the U.S.-led military coalition.

The Taliban said it would give radio stations, TV channels and other outlets one week to stop transmitting “enemy actions.” Those who continue doing so will be recognized by the group as military targets who are helping the authorities with intelligence gathering.

“Reporters and staff members will not remain safe,” the insurgents said in a statement.

Media companies across the country will get extra protection in light of the announcement, Defense Ministry spokesman Rohullah Ahmadzai said. He said the ads should continue to be broadcast.

“It’s very clear that such advertisements have helped the government fight terrorism,” Ahmadzai said. “If they weren’t useful we wouldn’t continue to use them.”

Members of NATO’s training mission in Afghanistan have worked with the country’s security forces on disseminating information to help counter the Taliban’s claims and persuade Afghans to help defeat the militants.

The Taliban have targeted Afghan media in the past, but Monday’s threat is the first such overt move by the group directed at those airing government announcements.

Fifteen media workers were killed in Afghanistan last year, making the country the deadliest in the world for journalists, according to Reporters Without Borders.

Zubair Babakarkhail contributed to this report.

wellman.phillip@stripes.com Twitter: @pwwellman

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Phillip is a reporter and photographer for Stars and Stripes, based in Kaiserslautern, Germany. From 2016 to 2021, he covered the war in Afghanistan from Stripes’ Kabul bureau. He is a graduate of the London School of Economics.
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