Somalia’s government on Sunday announced a ban on social networks TikTok and Telegram and online gambling apps, saying they were being used by “terrorists” to spread propaganda.
The move comes ahead of the long-awaited second phase of military offensive against Al-Shabaab, the Islamist militant group that has been waging a bloody insurgency against the central government in Mogadishu for more than 15 years.
In its statement, the Ministry of Communications and Technology instructed internet service providers to implement the ban by August 24, otherwise unspecified legal measures will be taken.
“In an effort to speed up the war and get rid of the terrorists who shed the blood of the Somali people, the Minister of Communications and Technology orders companies that provide internet services to stop the betting programs TikTok, Telegram and 1XBET, which terrorists and groups involved in spreading immorality, use to spread photo clips, photos and misleading society.”
The army has been on the offensive against al-Shabaab linked to al-Qaeda in central Somalia since August last year, collaborating with clan militias in an operation supported by African Union troops and US airstrikes.
Al-Shabaab fighters were driven out of the capital Mogadishu in 2011, but still control rural areas and continue to carry out deadly attacks against civilian, political and military targets despite government attacks.
President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has promised to remove the jihadists from the troubled Horn of Africa country and is expected to announce the second phase of attacks against them in southern Somalia soon.