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US FORCES SHUTDOWN OF INTERNET

Internet access in Somalia has virtually grinded to a halt, following the closure of the country's only internet company because of US government suspicions that it has links to terrorists, reports the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). Somalia Internet Company (SIC), named by the Bush administration as one of 62 organisations that have financial links with Osama bin Laden, has been forced to close operations, denying Internet access to all Somalis and blocking off vital money transfer services.

A telecommunications company, al-Barakaat, is also on the list and has been forced to close after its assets were frozen. al-Barakaat is the largest employer in Somalia and is relied upon by hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Somalis for money transfers in and out of the country, reports the BBC. Over 80 per cent of Somalis depend on money they receive from relatives outside the country. A BBC correspondent says all Internet cafes in the country have shut down and international phone lines are now being run by only two companies. Both al-Barakaat and SIC have said that they do not have links with terrorists. To view the BBC article, see http://news.bbc.co.uk/.


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