Afghanistan’s Interior Ministry has banned the use of camera drones by media companies, citing national security concerns in the war-ravaged country known for the widespread use of CIA-operated unmanned aircraft.
“The Interior Ministry, with all respect it has to media, respectfully announces to all national and international media that they should not use such cameras that have broad coverage and can create problems for security institutions,” the ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.
The statement added that Afghanistan’s National Security Council has issued the order.
According to an official at the Ministry of Information and Culture, the restrictions will not apply to the whole country, but only to sensitive areas such as government and military facilities.
The decision comes after a local media company recently flew a drone over the presidential palace in the capital, Kabul, while covering a huge protest.
Reacting to the news, Afghan activists took to social media urging the Kabul government to impose a ban on US drones which have killed several civilians across the war-torn country in recent years. “How about you banning killer drones instead?” wrote one Afghan user on Twitter.
The CIA spy agency has used hundreds of unmanned aircraft to conduct surveillance and airstrikes since the US and its allies invaded Afghanistan in 2001. The CIA regularly uses drones for airstrikes and spying missions in Afghanistan as well as Pakistan’s northwestern tribal belt near the Afghan border.
Washington has also been conducting targeted killings through remotely-controlled armed drones in Somalia and Yemen.
The United States says the airstrikes only target members of al-Qaeda and other militant groups, but according to local officials and witnesses, civilians have been the main victims of the attacks in most cases.
The airstrikes, initiated by former US President George W. Bush, have been escalated since President Barack Obama took office in 2009.
President Obama has defended the use of the controversial drone attacks as “self-defense.” International organizations and human rights groups, however, say the strikes are “targeted killings” that flout international law.