People in eastern Ethiopia say the internet has been cut off for the past three days.

They say it has been shut down in the vast Somali region and neighbouring areas, including the city of Harar.

This is the first time internet access has been cut in Ethiopia since the state of emergency was lifted in June.

Ethiopian government spokesman Ahmed Shide did not immediately respond to a phone call and a text message seeking comment on the shutdown, which was reported on Tuesday by digital rights group Access Now.

Violence broke out on Saturday in Jijiga, the capital of Ethiopia’s Somali region, with mobs looting properties owned by ethnic minorities. Security officials shot dead four people, a witness told Reuters.

There have been days of deadly clashes in the Somali region during a power struggle between the regional and federal authorities.

The regional president, Abdi Mahamoud Omar, resigned on Monday.

He has since been arrested and taken to the capital, Addis Ababa.

Since replacing Desalegn in April, Abiy has turned politics and the economy on its head in the country of 100 million people but continuing ethnic violence poses a challenge to his reform drive.

Nearly 1 million Ethiopians are currently displaced from their homes due to ethnic violence in the Somali and Oromia regions and elsewhere, according to the United Nations.

The government’s move to shut down the Internet amid the latest violence over the weekend suggests a continuation of a knee-jerk reaction to unrest in recent years.

Abiy, a 41-year-old former army officer, has pledged greater freedoms. In the four months since he took office, the government has released political prisoners and lifted a ban on opposition groups.

During the protests before Abiy took office, the government frequently switched off the Internet, sometimes for several months at a time, in Oromia, a large region that surrounds the capital Addis Ababa and extends east all the way to the Somali region.

Halting the ability of young people to organize demonstrations or strikes online or on social media, using smartphones, was a strategy used to contain protests.

Ethiopia, a country of 100 million people, is one of the few countries in the world that still has a state telecoms monopoly, which makes shutting off the internet more simple than if there were multiple telecoms providers.