Damage to several undersea telecom cables that caused outages across the Middle East and Asia could have been an act of sabotage, the International Telecommunication Union said on Monday.
“We do not want to preempt the results of ongoing investigations, but we do not rule out that a deliberate act of sabotage caused the damage to the undersea cables over two weeks ago,” the UN agency’s head of development, Sami al-Murshed, said.
Five undersea cables were damaged in late January and early February leading to disruption to Internet and telephone services in parts of the Middle East and south Asia.
There has been speculation that the sheer number of cables being cut over such a short period was too much of a coincidence and that sabotage must have been involved.
India’s Flag telecom revealed on February 7 that the cut to the Falcon cable between the United Arab Emirates and Oman was caused by a ship’s anchor. But mystery shrouds what caused another four reported cuts.
“Some experts doubt the prevailing view that the cables were cut by accident, especially as the cables lie at great depths under the sea and are not passed over by ships,” Murshed said on the sidelines of a conference on cyber-crime held in Gulf state of Qatar.
The Falcon cable has since been repaired, along with the Flag Europe Asia (FEA) cable which was damaged off Egypt’s Mediterranean coast. The status of the remaining cable is still unclear.