Coalition to Distribute 200,000 Radios to Afghans

The U.S.-led coalition will distribute more than 200,000 shortwave radios to people across Afghanistan (search), the U.S. military said Saturday.

"Truth is one of the most effective weapons against the terrorists and anti-coalition forces that are attempting to reinfect Afghanistan," spokesman Maj. Bryan Hilferty told a news briefing at the coalition headquarters at Bagram Air Base (search).

The radios would be given to Afghans for free to allow them "unfettered access to many sources of news," he said. Most of Afghanistan lacks a regular supply of electricity.

Hilferty gave no further details about the cost of the radios or their distribution. The radios are powered by a crank.

The announcement comes as the former ruling Taliban regime and its allies appear to be trying to undermine the U.S.-backed Afghan government and efforts to rebuild the war-battered country.

The Taliban, ousted in a U.S.-led military operation in late 2001, has stepped up attacks in the south and east of the country in recent months. Statements purportedly from the Taliban have also warned Afghans against taking part in next month's tribal council to ratify a new constitution, and general elections slated for June 2004.

Some 11,600 U.S.-led forces are hunting Taliban (search) and Al Qaeda (search) followers in Afghanistan.