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Internet returns to Libya's west, south after disruptions

Dozens stormed the offices of telecommunications companies in Tripoli and were holding staff there hostage, disrupting the internet in the capital.


Internet service has returned to Libya’s west and south on Sunday following statements from officials a day earlier, saying protesters had stormed the main headquarters of major telecommunication companies, disrupting internet service.

 Knife-wielding protesters have stormed the headquarters of Libya's largest telecoms provider and forced an eight-hour shutdown of Internet access in the south and west of the country. Dozens of protesters calling for Prime Minister Ali ...

Attackers have forced engineers to cut Internet connections to large parts of Libya and the system remains down, despite urgent pleas from a government minister, who described the assault as “pure vandalism”.

Dozens of protesters calling for Prime Minister Ali Zeidan to resign occupied Libyan Telecom and Technology's headquarters in the eastern suburbs of the capital, Tripoli, on Saturday, forcing staff to cut Internet service, said LTT communications chief Mourad Bilal.

"Thanks to the activation of a Plan B by our telecommunications technicians, Internet has now been restored in the regions that experienced outages," Bilal told AFP.

Besides calling for the prime minister's ouster, Bilal said, the group condemned the blockade of vital oil terminals in eastern Libya by local security guards demanding regional autonomy.

The months-long blockade has dealt a blow to the country's economy and slashed oil production from nearly 1.5 million barrels per day to just 250,000.

The protestors broke into the LTT  and Libyana headquarters in  the Abu Setta district of Tripoli at around 3.30pm on Sunday. They obliged technicians to terminate Internet connectivity, which affected the entire west and south of Libya.

Deputy Communications Minister Mohammed Belras Ali told the Libya Herald that he had spoken to the protestors to find out their demands. However, he said that these were unspecific. Their major complaint was against “the current situation” in the country, including the pipeline and terminal closures and the power cuts.

Ali said they told him that because of all these closures, they thought that they would shut down Libya’s telecommunications.

“It is pure vandalism” said Ali, who claimed he had appealed to the protestors to end their action in the interest of Libya. “I told them this was a mass punishment that included that guilty and the innocent. But despite my best efforts, they refused to listen to my reasoning”.

Internet services in the east of the country are understood to be unaffected because of a direct link to Egypt.  The mobile telephone services of Al-Madar and Libyana are currently working as usual.

Internet connectivity in Libya, never very reliable has come under increasing pressure as ever-more subscribers pile in to ever-less reliable bandwidth.



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