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Deadly cell phone virus rumors frighten Afghans

Cell phone users warned family and friends not to answer calls after hearing several had been killed by the alleged mystery virus in Kabul.

Rumors swept through Afghanistan on Monday that a deadly virus was being spread by mobile telephone calls, and government officials scrambled to reassure the public the talk was rubbish. Many worried Afghan mobile phone users called family and friends, warning them not to answer calls from strange numbers. Some people said they had heard that several people had been killed by the mystery virus in Kabul at the weekend.

"Don't answer any strange number because it contains a virus that will kill you," said Ahmad Fawad, a shop owner in Kabul. The rumors appear to have spread from neighboring Pakistan where last week a similar scare frightened countless mobile phone users. Afghan officials appeared on television and said the talk was baseless.