Mauritanian Government disconnects mobile internet services following protests over custodial death

Following protests sparked by the death of a young man in police custody, mobile phone internet services were disconnected while fixed telephone lines remained operational.

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The Mauritanian government disconnected mobile phone internet services on Wednesday following protests sparked by the death of a young man in police custody. Fixed telephone lines remained operational, and business activities continued normally. The demonstrations, demanding justice for Omar Diop, occurred in the capital city of Nouakchott and the southern city of Boghe. 

The police had arrested Diop after his involvement in a fight, and he later passed away in the hospital due to breathing difficulties. Investigations and an autopsy are underway to determine the circumstances of his death. Additional protests are expected, and the autopsy results could further fuel the unrest. According to the Interior Ministry, the protests involved burning tires and damage to public and private property. In Boghe, clashes between small groups of youths and the police resulted in the death of one demonstrator during an attempt to seize the local police station. 

Authorities justified the internet shutdown as a measure to hinder communication among criminals. As of Wednesday, the situation had calmed down in both locations. Mauritania recently held legislative elections, with the ruling party winning the majority of seats, in anticipation of the upcoming presidential elections next year.