Al-Shabaab start enforcing Internet ban

Militants loyal to radical Somalia Islamist group Al-Shabaab have started enforcing a ban on Internet use including the use of fibre optic communications.

The militants were Wednesday checking mobile phones for any Internet connections in areas of the country that they still control, mainly to the south and central Somalia.

The group had given telecoms a 15-day deadline to comply with an order banning the Internet and which expired on Wednesday.

Residents in affected areas on Wednesday reported missing signals.

“Armed Al-Shabaab Sharia (law) enforcers entered the offices of the telecom companies and ordered them to shut down Internet provision,” a resident who sought anonymity said.

Officials in affected companies told the media that their repeated appeals to Al-Shabaab to reverse the order had fallen on deaf ears.

“We believe that the order came from the highest echelons of the movement’s power structure,” an official who would not be named for security reasons said.

“That it why we failed to convince the group’s officials at district level to let us operate”.

The Al-Qaeda-allied group believes that spying on their operations is carried out through the Internet and smartphones.

The militants last year banned the use of smartphones in the areas that it still controls, after they were run out of key urban areas such as the capital Mogadishu.

In Somalia, plans to roll out a fibre-optic network are in an advanced phase.

The weak central government has urged telecommunications companies to ignore the Al-Shabaab’s order, but residents remain in fear of the terror group.

“Anybody ignoring this order will meet the consequences,” the group said while issuing its edict two weeks ago.

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