'Voice of Sharia': Taliban rename radio station after capturing Afghan city

14 August 2021, 10:06 | Updated: 15 August 2021, 07:57

Taliban militants seen driving through Kandahar after taking over the city
Taliban militants seen driving through Kandahar after taking over the city. Picture: Alamy
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

A radio station in Afghanistan's second-largest city has been renamed 'Voice of Sharia' and music has been banned after the Taliban captured Kandahar.

The group released a video of an unnamed insurgent taking to the airwaves and announcing the rebrand of the city's main station.

He claimed all staff were present and would, from now on, broadcast news, political analysis and recitations of the Koran. However, it was unclear whether the previous employees had been ousted.

The channel will reportedly no longer play music, mimicking a previous station with the same name that the Taliban operated from Kandahar when they last occupied it at the turn of the century.

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Afghan security forces exchanging fire with Taliban militants in Kandahar
Afghan security forces exchanging fire with Taliban militants in Kandahar. Picture: Alamy

Most residents of the city - the birthplace of the militant organisation - wear traditional clothing favoured by the group and the man in the video congratulated them on the Taliban's victory.

The group have run mobile radio stations in recent years but have not operated a station within a major Afghan city since ruling the country between 1996 and 2001.

It comes amid a rapid offensive by the organisation that has raised fears of a full takeover less than three weeks before the US is set to withdraw its last troops.

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The militant group has captured much of the country's northern, western and southern regions in recent weeks.

Afghanistan's Western-backed government is now in charge of just a handful of provinces in the centre and east, plus the capital, Kabul.

Meanwhile, the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif, which is under government control, is currently holding off a multi-pronged assault, while the Taliban have captured Logar province, which lies less than 50 miles south of the capital.

The decision to pull foreign troops out of the country - along with the nation's army conceding vast swathes of territory - means the group are edging closer to returning to power, which risks plunging Afghanistan into civil war.

Some 3,000 US Marines began arriving on Friday to help partially evacuate the American embassy, while British troops were also deployed on Friday and Saturday to help UK nationals leave the country.

Around 600 soldiers are expected to take part in the UK operation, which will also help relocate Afghans who helped British forces when they were in the country and now face reprisals if they fall into the hands of the Taliban.

Tens of thousands of Afghans have fled their homes, with many fearing a return to the group's oppressive rule.

They had previously governed the nation under a harsh version of Islamic law in which women were largely confined to the home.

Meanwhile, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has urged Prime Minister Boris Johnson to seek an urgent meeting of the United Nations Security Council to discuss what is unfolding in the country.