Three divers arrested in Egypt for cutting Internet cable
Undersea foul play blamed for recent regional online disruptions
Egyptian authorities arrested three divers yesterday, accused of cutting through an underwater Internet cable near the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria, online media reported.
The divers' activities may explain days of online disruption in the region as the cable, which is the property of the country's number-one operator Egypt Telecom, serves a number of providers including those in the UAE.
The divers were caught when their fishing boat was stopped by Egyptian coastguard officials. Reports cite military spokesmen as outlining the details of the arrest. The motive of the divers is unknown for now, but they are being held for questioning, although it is not clear by which authority.
The severed line was the South East Asia Middle East Western Europe 4 (SEA-ME-WE 4 or SMW 4) artery that has suffered reported accidental damage in recent years by boat activity.
According to some reports, cable operator SEACOM had reported disruptions to its service as far back as Friday. It is not known whether yesterday's sabotage is connected to SEACOM's outages, but UAE provider Etisalat today warned users of possible Internet disruption and cited the cut cable as the cause.
Du also issued a statement today that assured its customers that due to its strategy of "reserve capacity and alternative routes", they would be unaffected by the cut cable. In the statement, the UAE's number-two operator referred to another cable, the Europe India Gateway (EIG) as having also been severed. While the EIG also has a landing point at Alexandria, du did not say where the cutting of this cable took place.