By Aliyu Dangida
Somalia’s government has banned social media sites TikTok and Telegram, as well as an online betting app, claiming that they were being used by “terrorists” to promote propaganda.
The move comes ahead of the much-anticipated second phase of a military offensive against Al-Shabaab, an Islamist militant group that has waged a brutal insurgency against Mogadishu’s central authority for more than 15 years.
In a statement issued on Sunday, the Ministry of Communications and Technology ordered internet service providers to enforce the ban by August 24 or risk unspecified legal action.
It partly read, “In a bid to accelerate the war and elimination of the terrorists who have shed the blood of the Somali people, the minister of communication and technology instructs companies that provide internet services to suspend TikTok, Telegram, and 1XBET betting applications, which terrorists and groups responsible for spreading immorality use to spread graphic clips and photos and mislead society.”
Since August of last year, the army has been launching an attack against the Al-Qaeda-affiliated Al-Shabaab in central Somalia, teaming forces with local clan militias in an operation backed by African Union troops and US air strikes.
Despite the government offensive, al-Shabaab fighters still control large swaths of the countryside and continue to carry out deadly attacks on civilian, political, and military targets.
President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has vowed to clear the unstable Horn of Africa country of jihadists, and a second phase of the attack against them in southern Somalia is scheduled to be announced soon.