Zimbabwe has blocked Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp messaging app amid a crackdown on days of violent protests. A coalition of local human rights groups says at least 12 people have been killed and many more beaten and tortured by security forces this week.
The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum accused the authorities of cutting off the internet “to mask the massive human rights violations”. The protests were sparked on Monday by a sharp rise in the price of fuel.
The government has blamed the opposition and political rights groups for the protests, which has seen riot police clashing with protesters in the capital, Harare, and the southern city of Bulawayo after they lit fires and blocked roads using rocks.
The UN has called on the government to halt the “excessive use of force” by security forces including firing live ammunition, and allegations of night-time door-to-door searches and beatings.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa said the rise was aimed at tackling shortages caused by an increase in fuel use and “rampant” illegal trading. But many Zimbabweans, worn down by years of economic hardship, suddenly found they could not even afford the bus fare to work.