Somalia: al-Shabab bans smartphones to stymie film fans

Battered Blackberry device Only older models may be used, reports say

Smartphones are the latest item to be banned by Somali militant group al-Shabab, it appears.

According to reports, the al-Qaeda linked group has forbidden the sale and the use of the popular devices in areas under its control in the south of the country. The Somali Current news website says residents in Barawe, Buula-burte and Elbur have been warned that any person found using smartphones will "be punished".

Kenyan newspaper Daily Nation notes a local pronouncement that says the ban is to prevent local people from downloading and watching films on their devices. However, some residents tell the paper the real motivation for the ban is that smartphones may be used to spy on al-Shabab operations "by taking films, photos or sending messages". Older phones without web or video capability are reportedly still allowed.

Watching satellite television was recently banned by al-Shabab in the areas under its control in the Lower Shabelle region. And the group has also reportedly banned - amongst other things - music on the radio, the sale of pictures or music, smoking and playing football.

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