Internet shutdown in Burkina Faso reduces information and sparks criticism

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An internet and mobile phone disruption that began in Burkina Faso on Saturday continued through Monday, causing widespread communications failure, confusion and frustration.

Locals report that the 3G mobile network, on which much of the West African country relies, is not functioning. However, landline and wireless services, or WiFi, were not disrupted, a diplomat based in the capital, Ouagadougou, told VOA.

“Nothing has been officially communicated on the reason for the cut of 3G from what I saw,” said the diplomat, who was not authorized to address the media.

The government of Burkina Faso released a statement after the publication of this article saying that the shutdown of the mobile Internet was triggered for reasons of national defense and public security and that the disruption was to last approximately 96 hours from its date. early Saturday evening.

The shutdown began the same day a group of protesters blocked a French military convoy attempting to pass through the town of Kaya. The convoy of about 60 vehicles and 100 soldiers, leaving from Côte d’Ivoire to Niger and Mali, was forced to turn back to the capital Ouagadougou because of the demonstration, according to official sources who spoke to the government. Bambara service from VOA.

In an attempt to disperse the crowd, Burkinabè security forces used tear gas and French troops fired warning shots in the air. Several protesters said they were injured during the event, although VOA cannot independently verify the cause of the injuries.

NetBlocks, a global connectivity monitoring organization, confirmed the continued internet outage on Monday and said the type of disruption “cannot be bypassed with the use of bypass software or VPNs.”

He added that the disruption is choking the flow of information and preventing media coverage of critical events in the country.

Access Now, another rights group, condemned the disruption, calling on authorities to restore internet connection. “As details continue to emerge, one thing is certain: this is a blatant attack on human rights,” the group tweeted on Monday. “#InternetShutdowns are never acceptable.”

Anger is growing in Burkina Faso over extremist violence that has claimed thousands of lives and displaced more than a million people, according to the United Nations.

Some of the protesters in Kaya are also angry at French military involvement in the conflict, over accusations, made by disinformation online, that the French are arming militant groups.

The head of the Bambara service of VOA, Bagassi Koura, contributed to this report.

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