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Taliban Closes BBC’s Afghanistan Office

BY Admin  March 14, 2001 at 12:00 PM EDT

Taliban leaders accused the BBC of using derogatory language in its reports on the demolition of giant statues at Bamiyan. Tayyab Agha, a Taliban official, told the Associated Press his group felt the BBC’s reporting was misleading and hostile.

According to Abdul Salam Zeef, the Taliban’s ambassador to Pakistan, BBC correspondent Kate Clark has been ordered to leave Afghanistan within 24 hours.

The flap follows the Taliban’s controversial decision to destroy all of the country’s pre-Islamic statues, including two of the Buddha carved out of the side of a cliff. At 170 feet, the taller of the two statues was believed to be the world’s tallest standing Buddha statue.

Taliban leaders said the statues were heathen idols and had no place in an Islamic society.

The Afghan Islamic Press reported Tuesday night the statues’ demolition had been completed.

The Taliban’s Information Ministry accused the BBC in a press statement of ignoring the orthodox Muslim group’s point of view and calling it “illiterate.”

“BBC radio has for a while been broadcasting false news about Afghanistan and vicious propaganda against the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) by its enemies,” the statement said.

A BBC press release expressed regret at the Taliban’s decision, but said its coverage of the area will go on.

“Our commitment to the story and to the people of Afghanistan is unaltered,” the statement said, “and we will continue to cover Afghanistan from Pakistan.

According to the BBC, Clark has been based in Afghanistan since 1999. The BBC has maintained a presence in Afghanistan since the early 1990s.