16 killed in deadly riots in Senegal, govt snaps internet after ‘hateful’ messages posted online

by Reuters: Senegal’s government has reduced access to mobile internet services in some areas fatal riot It said in a statement on Sunday that “hateful and subversive” messages have been posted online.

The West African country has been rocked by three days of violent protests that have left 16 people dead, in one of the deadliest bouts of civil unrest in decades.

Last week, the government limited access to some messaging platforms, but many were able to bypass the outage by using virtual private networks that mask a user’s location. It extended the outage on Sunday to include all data on mobile Internet devices in certain areas and at certain times, the statement said.

It did not specify which areas were affected or at what time, but residents of Dakar said they were unable to access the internet without a WiFi connection on Sunday afternoon, a time of day when protests typically take place. Has begun to gather steam.

“Due to the spread of hateful and subversive messages… mobile internet is temporarily suspended at certain hours of the day,” the statement said.

The catalyst for the unrest was the sentence on Thursday of popular opposition leader Ousmane Sanko to two years in prison, which could bar him from running in February’s presidential election.

Read this also | Death toll in Senegal protests rises to 15 as opposition supporters clash with police

Protesters have also been angered by President Macky Sall’s refusal to run for a third term. Senegal has a two-term limit for the presidency.

Internet shutdowns to suppress dissent are common in Africa and date back to the 2011 Arab Spring when the rulers of Egypt, Tunisia and Libya sought to control the spread of information. Since then Gabon, Gambia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and others have done the same in times of instability.

Rights groups say the move violates freedom of expression. It could also dent already fragile economies.

“These restrictions … are arbitrary measures contrary to international law and cannot be justified by security imperatives,” Amnesty International said in a statement on Friday during the first wave of outages in Senegal.