Afghan government to media: Curb usage of camera drones

Drone operator, Ken Butti checks the camera gimbal of the custom built DJI s1000 Drone prior to flight at Palm Beach on July 4, 2014 in Sydney, Australia Photograph:( Getty )

Reuters Kabul Jun 08, 2016, 12.47 PM (IST)

The Afghan government today moved to restrict the use of camera drones by media companies on its territory known for the widespread use of military unmanned aircraft.

The Interior ministry announced the policy citing national security.

"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.

Afghanistan's National Security Council (NSC) issued the order, the statement said.

The restrictions will not apply to the whole country, but only to sensitive areas like government and military facilities, according to an official at the ministry of information and culture who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The official cited a recent incident in which a local TV news company flew a small drone over the presidential palace in Kabul while covering a large protest.

Many other countries have enacted similar restrictions as they grapple with how to regulate the expanding use of commercial and private remote-controlled aircraft.

The news still raised some eyebrows in a country rife with unmanned US military aircraft.

"How about you banning killer drones instead?" wrote one Afghan user on Twitter.

Foreign militaries have used hundreds of unmanned aircraft to conduct surveillance and air strikes since the American-led military campaign began in Afghanistan in 2001.

Nearly 15 years after a drone first fired missiles in combat, the US military programme has expanded far beyond specific strikes to become an everyday part of the war machine.

Unmanned aircraft now log up to eight times as many flight hours as the few remaining manned aircraft in Afghanistan.

Earlier this year, the Afghan military received its first surveillance drones, which have been deployed in restive Helmand province.