Mogadishu (AFP) – Militants from the Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab on Wednesday banned citizens in the areas of Somalia they control from using the Internet.
They gave all communication companies providing web services a 15-day ultimatum to shut down their operations.
“Any company or individual that is found ignoring the call will be considered to be working with the enemy and they will be dealt with in accordance to the Sharia” or Islamic law, the statement which was posted on pro-Shebab websites added.
The militants impose strict laws in the zones under their control and frequently arrest people on suspicion of “spying”.
The Internet is widely used in Somalia, which has been wracked by civil war for more than two decades, with the Shebab considered the biggest obstacle to peace.
The Shebab once controlled most of southern and central Somalia but withdrew from fixed positions in Mogadishu two years ago.
African Union troops — including large contingents from Uganda, Kenya and Burundi — have since recaptured a series of insurgent bastions and tried to prop up Somalia’s fledgling government forces.
But a string of devastating Shebab attacks against foreign and government targets have shattered hopes of a rebirth for the war-ravaged capital and demonstrated that the Islamist outfit’s disruptive power is undiminished.