injured in Zimbabwe
© AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi
An injured man received assistance at a hospital Thursday after an alleged assault by a group of uniformed soldiers in Harare, Zimbabwe. AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi
Zimbabwe has imposed an internet shutdown as demonstrators protesting a steep fuel increase were attacked by security forces, according to reports.

The African country's largest internet service provider - Econet - says it has been ordered to cut services until further notice.

Access to Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter has been intermittently blocked since protests broke out on Monday, according to the BBC.

At least three people have been killed and 600 people have been arrested.

"We were served with another directive for total shutdown of the internet until further notice," Econet said in a text message Friday, according to Agence France-Presse.

"Our lawyers advised we are required to comply with the directive pending the court decision on its legality. The earlier directive(s) are already the subject of pending high court application.

"We sincerely apologize for all inconveniences caused by the acts of government."

One of those arrested, pastor and activist Evan Mawarire, was charged with inciting civil disobedience online. "It's a shame what's happening," the pastor said.

The US embassy in Harare said it was "alarmed by credible reports that security forces are targeting and beating political activists and labor leaders," the French news agency reported.

Our country is going through one of the most trying periods in its history," the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops' Conference said in a sweeping statement lamenting the government's "intolerant handling of dissent" and its failure to halt economic collapse.
Evan Mawarire
© AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi
Pastor and activist Evan Mawarire, right, arrives handcuffed at the magistrates courts in Harare, Zimbabwe, Friday.
The internet shutdown cuts off crucial access to the mobile money that Zimbabwe's government uses to pay teachers and other public workers. Some said they can no longer afford fares for public transport, and some shops have run out of basics such as bread.

The protests began after President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced that fuel prices were being doubled in a country suffering regular shortages of fuel, food and medicine, AFP reported.

Mnangagwa, who succeeded ousted authoritarian president Robert Mugabe in 2017, had promised a fresh start for Zimbabwe after decades of repression and economic decline.