Taliban uses drones to film attacks in Afghanistan
Government official plays down significance of release of drone video which purportedly shows Taliban attack in Helmand.
The Afghan Taliban has uploaded a drone footage showing a suicide bomber driving into a police base and blowing it up in the southern Helmand province.
The fighters say the footage proves that they can now deploy drones as an “addition to their sophisticated possessions of advanced technologies”.
The 23-minute-long video, which begins with a self-proclaimed suicide bomber speaking in front of an explosives-rigged Humvee, was released on Saturday and appears to be authentic, according to the Afghan defence ministry.
“The remote-controlled drones to capture footage of their [Taliban] fighters conducting attacks is nothing but to instill fear among people and to indicate how far they can get in defeating us, but in fact using a drone is not something they can call an achievement,” Dawlat Waziri, spokesman for the defence ministry, told Al Jazeera by telephone.
“You can get a drone anywhere, in any shop. They found or bought one, and used it.”
However, using camera drones near sensitive government sites was banned by the Afghan government in June.
In the video, the purported suicide bomber, dressed in a black turban and white tunic says: “I am telling the Afghan stooge forces to repent and join the Taliban or we will use this equipment the foreigners gave them, against them and they can’t do anything about it.”
A drone-mounted camera then films the Humvee speeding towards a compound and detonating in flames, blowing up the entire building.
“This proves that we are well ahead in sending our messages to the people of Afghanistan in many sophisticated ways. Anything that helps us in destroying our enemies [Afghan and US forces] will be used with full force,” Zabiullah Mujahid, Taliban spokesman, told Al Jazeera.
“This video has proved to be very influential and we have many people supporting us.”
Mujahid said the video was of an attack on October 3, when the fighters overran parts of Helmand province.
Reuters says a government official in Helmand also confirmed the attack in which the district police chief and several other officials were killed.
Helmand is strategically important for the Taliban as it is the main source of the country’s opium output, worth an estimated $4bn a year, much of which funds the war.
Provincial officials say the Taliban now controls 85 percent of the province, while only a year ago the government controlled 80 percent.