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Nato: Taliban take war to Twitter

By Sajjad Haider
May 24th 2012



After more than a decade of fierce fighting in Afghanistan, the Nato-led Isaf force has taken its war with the Taliban to an entirely different battleground.

On Tuesday, the International Security Assistance Force’s press office got into another war of words with Abdulqahar Balkhi (@abalkhi) — a person known to tweet Taliban’s messages. Unlike the bloody war on the ground, the argument contested claims of casualties and death tolls.

Balkhi claimed Tuesday that four Nato soldiers had been killed by an explosive device earlier in the day. He tweeted: “IED at 8 am today obliterates ISAF tank in Gerishk district (Helmand). All 4 invaders onboard killed.”

To which @Isafmedia, the Isaf’s press office, responded: “ISAF reporting refutes your fatality claim here, and others you make today.”

“Since when is ISAF reporting considered authoritative?? and you are already refuting ‘claims’ for the rest of the day???” remarked Balkhi, who goes by the intro “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, News, Interviews, Analysis, Statements…”.

“Refuting your feed – you claim 15 ISAF fatalities today; ISAF official reporting currently says zero today,” tweeted the official Isaf twitter account, to which Balkhi end conversation with: “Well ISAF personnel need to be held accountable for trying to hide fatalities. Journalists always welcome to confirm ‘claims’.”

This is not the first time the two have got into an argument on the internet. Earlier on May 18, Balkhi claimed the deaths of eight Nato soldiers killed in Afghanistan’s Helmand province, with the Isaf office refuting the claims. The tweets ended in a similar argument.

As early as 2011, the media has reported similar conversations between the two, with one reported by theGuardian in September and another in November reported by CNN.

While talks with the Taliban may have been stalled, the dialogue, though rather unsavory, continues on Twitter.

Originally Published by Dawn Pakistan

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