Central African Republic bans texting during wave of violence

After activists try to organize a general strike through text messages, the country's telecommunications ministry deems SMS a security threat.

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Sarah Tew/CNET

The entire nation of the Central African Republic is now completely closed to text messaging, according to the AFP news agency. The ban comes during an especially bloody week for the war-torn country.

The order to forbid texting was handed down by CAR Prime Minister Andre Nzapayeke and relayed by the country's telecommunications ministry.

"The use of any SMS by all mobile phone subscribers is suspended from Monday, June 2, 2014, until further notice," the ministry wrote in a letter to the country's mobile phone operators, according to AFP.

The ban comes after several days of protests in the capital Bangui. Over the past few days, activists also have attempted to organize a general strike via text message. According to AFP, the telecommunications ministry said Tuesday that SMS is now considered a security threat to the country.

When users attempt to send a text message they get a response that says, "SMS not allowed," reports AFP.

The CAR has been fraught with violence and political upheaval over the past few years. Christian vigilante militias have battled with Muslim rebels throughout the country, leaving scores of civilians dead.

It's unclear if and when the text message ban will be lifted. A source told AFP it would last "for several days."

About the author

Dara Kerr is a staff writer for CNET focused on the sharing economy and tech culture. She grew up in Colorado where she developed an affinity for collecting fool's gold and spirit animals.

 

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