Zimbabwe has constricted Internet access amid a week of deadly protests following an increase in gasoline prices.
Econet Wireless Zimbabwe, the country’s largest mobile phone operator, said early Friday that it had been directed by the government to shut down all Internet access for the second time in a week.
“We were served with another directive for total shutdown of the internet until further notice,” Econet said in a statement, Reuters reports. The carrier noted that all networks and providers in Zimbabwe had suspended services.
Later Friday, Econet said it had received orders to restore access except for some social media applications, Reuters reports.
Critics say the government wants to limit Internet access to halt the circulation of images showing security forces responding violently to protests. Photographs show a protester with a broken leg, another with a split lip, and others of protesters being arrested. Activists were challenging the restrictions in court.
The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum says the Internet restriction is “unwarranted, unjustifiable in the circumstances and is a tool of repression meant to mask the massive human rights violations which the state was preparing to commit.”
The protests began after the government more than doubled the price of gasoline. Zimbabwe now has the most expensive gas in the world.
The government has confirmed three Zimbabweans died in the protests, Reuters reports. The NGO Forum says at least 12 people were killed.