Turkmen rush to get mobile connections

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ASHGABAT, Turkmenistan (AP) — It took a threat from the authoritarian leader of this reculsive nation to get desperate cut-off cell phone a chance to chat again.

Most mobile phone users in the ex-Soviet nation lost service last year when authorities pulled the license of Russian-owned mobile company MTS, leaving only state-owned monopoly mobile phone provider Altyn Asyr. Up to 2.4 million subscribers were without service.

President Gurbanguli Berdymukhamedov warned the communications minister Friday that he would be fired if service was not improved within three days.

Altyn Asyr said rules on who can buy SIM cards have been relaxed. Huge lines appeared outside Altyn Asyr outlets in the capital, Ashgabat, after the news spread.