Police have launched an investigation into coordinated physical attacks on infrastructure leaving several French cities with internet outages and slowdowns on Wednesday.
French internet service provider (ISP) Netalis released a statement on the incident saying the fibre optic links between Paris and Lyon and Paris and Strasbourg had suffered losses and slowdown, and noted that fibre optic lines had been found to be cut. While no group has been publicly identified as a perpetrator for the alleged sabotage at this stage, the attack is the latest in a line of recent such cases, many of which have been connected to hard-left anarchist groups.
“The fact remains that the characteristics and circumstances of this particularly serious and very rare incident make it difficult [to blame is on being] an accidental break. Several operators using the same [methods] vandalized infrastructures are involved.” the company said and stated it would be filing a criminal complaint to prosecute those behind the sabotage.
“This is unprecedented, we do not know who is at the origin of these malicious acts, we had already experienced damage to pylons, but here, we reach the major highways … The coordination of the attacks on the cables was well done, by people who inevitably know the network,” the head of Netalis, Nicolas Guillaume, said, broadcaster Franceinfo reports.
French Secretary of State for Digital Cédric O confirmed cables had been cut on Twitter saying, “Cable cuts have been confirmed in Île-de-France impacting the fixed and mobile network. We are in contact with the operators who are in the process of restoring the service.”
— Free 1337 (@Free_1337) April 27, 2022
The French ISP Free published pictures of cut fibre optic cables on Wednesday. In all, internet service was impacted across wide areas of France, including the Ile-de-France region around Paris, eastern France and the Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes and Bourgogne-France-Comte regions, Reuters reports.
The Paris Prosecutor’s office has opened an investigation and intelligence officers will be taking part, given the nature of the sabotage, again per Reuters.
Zone ADSL, a website that records internet speeds in France, claimed to have recorded a total of 9,156 breakdowns in internet connections on fixed internet in France, mostly affecting the ISPs Free and SFR.
“This kind of incident of this magnitude, it never happens,” a source close to the incident told French media and added, “This is the first time, and we don’t know who it is, for now.”
While so far no suspects have been identified in the alleged act of sabotage, the incident bears a striking similarity to attacks on French infrastructure claimed by far-left extremists in recent years.
Far-left French anarchists have taken credit for two arson attacks on a telecommunications company in the latest act of infrastructure sabotage claimed by far-left militants. https://t.co/EApl0HfoJU
— Breitbart News (@BreitbartNews) February 27, 2021
In May of 2020, an act of sabotage in the Ile-de-France region knocked out the internet for 50,000 people and was just one of around 20 acts of sabotage within a month-long period according to a leaked note from the Central Territorial Intelligence Service (SCRT), who also suspected far-left extremists may have been behind the acts.
Last year, far-left extremist anarchists took credit for an act of sabotage in Brézins and Sassenage after fibre optic cables belonging to the telecommunications company Constructel were damaged along with vehicles belonging to the company. A 300-metre communications tower was set on fire as well.
In a statement, the extremists detailed their motivations for the attacks saying, “it is not to protest against 5G in particular but in a broader context, fighting against the techno-world.”
Earlier this month, far-left extremists were again implicated in an act of sabotage in France, after powerlines in the commune of Villard-Bonnot were set on fire depriving power to over 5,500 people in the area, and even shutting down the production at a semiconductor factory.
France: Far-Left Antifa Extremists Possible Suspects in Mass Sabotage of Internet Infrastructure https://t.co/ydwvfFowXn
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) May 8, 2020