Egypt's military arrests divers cutting undersea Internet cables

Coast-guard patrol arrests three divers in the act of sabotaging communications cables that connect Africa with Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, a military representative says.

Egypt's naval forces arrested three divers cutting through an undersea Internet cable today, the country's military representative said, raising the possibility that saboteurs are behind severed lines and days-long Internet disruptions.

A coast-guard patrol stopped a fishing boat near Alexandria and arrested three men "while they were cutting a submarine cable" line belonging to Telecom Egypt, the country's main communications company, Col. Ahmed Mohammed Ali said on his official Facebook page. The page offered no details on the divers' identities, according to publishedreports.

It was not immediately clear if the divers were responsible for recent disruptions to Internet traffic over several lines that connect Africa with Europe, the Middle East, and Europe. Meanwhile, an executive for Telecom Egypt told TV network CBC that the disruptions were due to cable damage caused by a ship, according to the Associated Press.

A handful of Internet and telephone outages have been caused in recent years by damage to undersea cables near Alexandria, which carry more than 75 percent of traffic between the Middle East, Europe, and the United States. A trio of outages in 2008 were thought to have been caused by weather conditions or ship anchors.

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