An Islamist militia controlling parts of Somalia has banned the use of the internet for fear of spying and surveillance on its operations in the Horn of Africa country, dpa reported.
Internet providers must sever services on mobile phones and using fibre optic communications within 15 days, al-Shabaab said in a statement aired on Andulus, one of its radio stations, late Wednesday.
Companies refusing to comply with the ban "would be seen as collaborating with the enemy and necessary steps would be taken against them in compliance with sharia, or Islamic law," the statement said.
Al-Shabaab controls mainly rural areas in central and southern Somalia, but there was concern that the internet ban could have a wider effect.
"Some of the main antennas transmitting the signals belong to companies here in Mogadishu" and they would have to be disabled for the ban to enter into force, one operator for a local telecommunications company said on the condition of anonymity.
Somalia's largest telecommunications operator, Hormuud Telecom, which has signed an agreement with South Africa's Liquid Telecom to link Somalia with an African fibre optic network, did not issue an immediate comment.
African Union peacekeepers in Somalia and Kenyan troops have stepped up their operations against al-Shabaab, which is believed to be linked with al-Qaeda, after its attack on a Nairobi shopping mall that left 67 people dead in September.
Al-Shabaab regularly attacks convoys and bombs civilians in Somalia.