Zimbabwe shuts down social media as UN slams military crackdown

A man sets tires on fire near Zimbabwe's capital, Harare, on January 14, 2019, during protests over a large hike in fuel prices.

Harare, Zimbabwe (CNN)Zimbabweans spent most of Friday without internet after the government ordered the country's biggest mobile operator to shut down service again.

After several hours, networks were restored, but social media platforms remained blocked, Econet Wireless said in a notice to its customers.
It meant that people in Zimbabwe have not been able to access any social media sites such as WhatsApp, Twitter and Facebook throughout the week.
    The shutdown comes as the military was accused of committing human rights abuses during a brutal crackdown on protests this week over a massive hike in gas prices.
      Prison guards watch over men arrested during the protests as they wait for their hearing at the Law Court in Harare on January 16.
      A spokeswoman for UNHCR, the United Nations Refugee Agency, Ravina Shamdasani, expressed concern Friday over reports of "excessive use of force, including live ammunition" by security forces, and called on the government to "find ways of engaging with the population about their legitimate grievances."
      The United States embassy in Harare also criticized the "disproportionate use of force" in a statement on Thursday, saying it was "alarmed by credible reports that security forces were targeting and beating political activists and labor leaders."
      Days of deadly protests were triggered by President Emmerson Mnangagwa's announcement of a 150% increase in fuel prices.
      Though calm returned to some areas in Harare on Friday, most shops and businesses remained closed with the army and military patrolling the streets.