A couple of days ago some rockets were fired from the low hills surrounding Chagcharan into town. They fell in dead ground, didn’t detonate properly and hurt no one. Which is of course good, if not somewhat incompetent.
Some folks here say they were aimed at a nearby mobile phone mast. If so, this would fit with recent Taliban attacks on the mobile phone network in the south. These followed a Taliban order to mobile phone operators to shut down the network between 5 pm and 7 am. With around 10 phone masts knocked out so far, the operators have had little choice but to comply.
There’s something about this story I don’t get though. The reasons the Taliban have reportedly (here and here for example) given for all this is that the army has been monitoring their calls and using them to track them down. Which I’m sure they have (and seem to remember reading somewhere that this fact prompted the Taliban and Al Qaeda to adopt a communications system using written notes and couriers several years ago).
But would it not be a bit easier for the Taliban to just not use mobile phones themselves? Or not to use them between 5 pm and 7am? (Do the Americans not tap phone calls during daylight hours?) Or go back to using hand-written notes? Isn’t this tactic somewhat self-defeating? Their logic is ineffable. Or I really have missed something, in which case please do enlighten me as I’m baffled.
As for those rockets in Chagcharan, no one seems too sure who fired them but it almost certainly wasn’t the Taliban, who don’t come up our way much. And normal mobile phone services continue – in the 20 mile radius that is covered in the whole province.
Rumour has it that it’s most likely to be some disaffected local commander with a grudge against the provincial government or police. In which case I guess it’s possible they may have meant not to hit anything, but rather serve as some pointed reminder about something or other.
After hearing so much of the military prowess of former mujahideen and the Taliban I rather hope this guess is correct, as it would be slightly disappointing to think that our local ‘armed opposition groups’ couldn’t aim and fire a rocket properly.