New Delhi: Three divers in Egypt were caught trying to cut through an undersea Internet cable on Wednesday, an army spokesman said on his official Facebook page.
An Egyptian coastguard patrol stopped a fishing boat near the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria and arrested three divers, the first suggestion criminals might be involved in days of severed connections and disruptions online.
Col. Ahmed Mohammed Ali did not give details of the divers` possible motive in severing the link he said belonged to Egypt Telecom, the country`s monopoly landline provider.
"The armed forces foiled an attempt and arrested three divers while they were cutting a submarine cable," he said.
It was not immediately clear whether the incident was related to disruptions off Egypt reported by cable operator SEACOM last week that it said hit several lines connecting Europe with Africa, the Middle East and Asia.
“There was preliminary evidence of slow Internet connections as far away as Pakistan and India,” said an expert who studies Internet traffic.
“A cable cut can cause data to become congested and flow the long way around the world,” he said.
SEACOM did not give any explanation for the cuts it said hit its cables and other network systems funneling telecoms traffic backwards and forwards in the early hours of Friday.
Web users have reported slower connections across Egypt since then.
The firm, which carries traffic for other companies, said on Wednesday services had been restored only to report hours later another connection had been cut.
The telecoms infrastructure snaking under the Mediterranean has suffered several disruptions in recent years. In the past, some operators and users have suggested cables had been caught in the propellers of passing ships.
Crimes rates have been rising across Egypt amid wider disorder triggered by the uprising that unseated Hosni Mubarak in 2011.
(With Agencies inputs)