Afghanistan's battered economy took another heavy blow Tuesday when the Taliban abruptly declared a total ban on the use of all foreign currencies. American dollars are widely used in markets and the currencies of neighboring countries are often used in border areas. The Taliban said anybody who failed to use the local currency, the afghani, in transactions would face legal action. "The Islamic Emirate instructs all citizens, shopkeepers, traders, businessmen, and the general public to henceforth conduct all transactions in afghanis and strictly refrain from using foreign currency," Taliban spokesman Zabihulla Mujahid said in a statement, per the BBC.
The Taliban said the ban was necessary due to the "economic situation and national interests in the country," though many believe it will be counterproductive, since much of the country's economy involves foreign aid and remittances from overseas, the AP reports. With a potential humanitarian and refugee crisis looming, the Taliban has urged Western governments to release billions of dollars in central bank reserves that were frozen when the group seized control of the country. Reuters reports that hours before the currency move was announced, at least 25 people were killed in an Islamic State attack on the country's biggest military hospital. (Read more Afghanistan stories.)