Official Taliban websites abruptly go offline

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Taliban websites that delivered the victorious group’s official messages to Afghans and the world at large in five languages have abruptly gone offline.

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It is not immediately clear why the sites in the Pashto, Urdu, Arabic, English and Dari languages went offline Friday. They had been shielded by Cloudflare, a San Francisco-based content delivery network and denial-of-service protection provider.

Cloudflare has not respond to emails and phone calls seeking comment on the development, which was first reported by The Washington Post.

Also Friday, the popular encrypted messaging service WhatsApp removed a number of Taliban groups, according to Rita Katz, director of SITE Intelligence Group, which tracks online extremism.

The websites’ disappearance may just be temporary as the Taliban secures new hosting arrangements. But the reported removal of the WhatsApp groups followed the banning of Taliban accounts by Facebook, the service’s parent company, on Tuesday after the US-backed Afghan government fell to the Taliban.

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