The Central African Republic has banned text messages in the war-torn country, with the telecommunications ministry saying Tuesday that SMS constitutes a security threat.
"The use of any SMS by all mobile phone subscribers is suspended from Monday June 2, 2014, until further notice," the ministry said in a letter to mobile-phone operators, according to Agence France-Presse. AFP said cell phone users who try to send a text get the reply, “SMS not allowed.”
The ministry said the decision to ban text messaging was made by Central African Republic Prime Minister Andre Nzapayeke. The country experienced an uptick in violence last week in Bangui, the capital, and calls for a general strike were made via SMS.
Nzapayeke urged people in Bangui to return to work on Sunday following protests. A group called Collectif Centrafrique Debout was sending text messages since the weekend asking people to stay at home after more violence erupted in Bangui, Reuters reported.
Christian vigilante groups are fighting mostly Muslim ex-Seleka rebels who took control of the country in a 2013 coup but were booted from power in January. Christians are a majority in the Central African Republic.
Catherine Samba-Panza heads the Central African Republic’s interim government. About 8,000 African Union and French peacekeepers are in the country to try to contain the violence in which 2,000 people have been killed and nearly a million of the country’s 4.5 million people displaced.