The Afghanistan government has requested a ban on instant messaging services WhatsApp and Telegram.

The letter by telecoms regulator ATRA, dated Nov. 1 and signed by an official of the regulator, directed internet companies to block Telegram and Facebook Inc’s (FB.O) WhatsApp services “without delay” for a period of 20 days.

The ban was reportedly initiated to stop the Taliban and other insurgent groups from using encrypted messaging.

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Services including WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Viber are widely used by the Afghan public and their politicians – but also by the Taliban, who are known to operate their own complex messaging and social media operations.

Acting Telecommunications Minister Shahzad Aryobee also posted a message on Facebook saying that the regulator had been ordered to put a gradual block on messaging services to solve technical problems, after numerous complaints had been received.

“The government is committed to freedom of speech and knows that it is a basic civil right for our people,” he wrote.