Network data confirm a nation-scale disruption to mobile internet traffic in Mauritania from Monday morning 10 a.m. 6 March 2023. The incident comes as authorities launch a search for four high-risk prisoners held under terror and treason charges who staged a prison riot and escape in Nouakchott on Sunday night. Service has been restored as of afternoon Sunday 12 March 2023 after the prisoners were reported apprehended or killed.
⚠️ Confirmed: Metrics show a significant decline in internet traffic in #Mauritania amid a widespread disruption to mobile data services; the incident comes as users seek to go online to learn about the violent escape of four prisoners in #Nouakchott pic.twitter.com/wYG7EKuNyz
— NetBlocks (@netblocks) March 6, 2023
Metrics show that mobile internet has been cut, while rarely used fixed-line service remains available, corroborating user reports of outages on the country’s three mobile operators. This class of disruption cannot be readily worked around using VPN services.
ℹ️ Update: Mobile internet has been restored in #Mauritania almost a week after service was cut amid a prison riot and prisoner escape in the capital; the fugitives have now been killed or apprehended per reports; incident duration 6 days 📈
— NetBlocks (@netblocks) March 12, 2023
What’s happening in Mauritania?
On Sunday night a prison riot took place at the Nouakchott Civil Prison in the capital’s Tevragh Zeina district, leading to the killing of two guards and the escape of four prisoners, including two condemned to death and others awaiting trial under terrorism and treason charges.
Authorities responded by implementing a localised lockdown, which was extended regionally. Mobile internet was shut down locally per reports, subsequently extending to national scale.
🇲🇷 Mauritania: cutting off mobile internet services is taking a toll on small businesses. Am told by workers in this gas station that their business dropped dramatically. consumers who in normal times carry a lot of transactions with local money transfer apps. pic.twitter.com/Obh3eo6gRZ
— Weddady (@weddady) March 6, 2023
The Islamic Republic of Mauritania has a prior history of internet shutdowns and censorship, including the use of mobile network disruptions. In June 2019 Mauritania imposed a mobile internet blackout followed by a total internet shutdown during contested elections.
NetBlocks recommends against the use of internet shutdowns due to their disproportionate impact on the public’s right to freely access and impart knowledge.
- Three escaped jihadist prisoners killed in Mauritania – France24 / AFP
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