BBC urges Taliban U-turn after news broadcasts blocked

BBC urges Taliban U-turn after news broadcasts blocked

The BBC urged the Taliban on Sunday to reverse what it said was an order to remove international broadcasters from Afghan airwaves, which has blocked the British broadcaster's news bulletins.

"The BBC's TV news bulletins in Pashto, Persian and Uzbek have been taken off air in Afghanistan, after the Taliban ordered our TV partners to remove international broadcasters from their airwaves," Tarik Kafala, head of languages at the BBC World Service, said in a statement.

"We call on the Taliban to reverse their decision and allow our TV partners to return the BBC's news bulletins to their airwaves immediately."

The UN National Assistance Mission in Afghanistan described the action against international media as "another chilling development".

"Taliban instruct Afghan media to suspend any further transmission of international media broadcasts. Another repressive step against the people of Afghanistan," the UN mission tweeted.

Kafala called the move by Taliban "a worrying development at a time of uncertainty and turbulence for the people of Afghanistan".

He noted more than six million Afghans consume the BBC's journalism on TV every week.

"It is crucial they are not denied access to it in the future," he added.

The development came as the Taliban, which seized power last summer and forced the hasty exit of remaining Western troops, diplomats and others, has this week come under rising pressure over female education.

Women's rights activists pledged on Sunday to launch a wave of nationwide protests if the hardline Islamists now governing the country fail to reopen girls' secondary schools within a week.

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