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CRIME

Internet outages in French cities caused by ‘cable vandalism’

Internet services were down or running slowly in several French cities on Wednesday after suspected acts of vandalism targeting fibre optic cables, one operator and the economy ministry said.

Internet outages in French cities caused by 'cable vandalism'
French telecoms group Free said its cables had been targeted for vandalism. Photo by Sameer Al-DOUMY / AFP

Telecoms group Free announced “multiple malicious acts” targeting its cables overnight, while the economy ministry said it had been informed of “cut cables” as the source of the problems. 

French media reported that underground cables had been cut in Fresnes-en-Woëvre (Meuse), Meaux and Souppes-sur-Loing (Seine-et-Marne) and Le Coudray-Montceaux (Essonne). These networks supply the Paris-Lille, Paris-Strasbourg and Paris-Lyon long-distance internet connections.

For the latest, click here – French internet cable attacks, what we know so far

Free said it had been the victim of “multiple malicious acts” including in Reims and Graveline. It added that engineers had been working on the problem since 4am.

Rival operators Bouygues Telecom and Orange said they were not affected.

But competitor SFR said it had experienced “several fibre cuts” in the Paris region and in Lyon in southeast France.

Problems were reported by users around the country including in the cities of Strasbourg and Grenoble.

The source of the problem is unknown at this stage, but experts stressed that apparently coordinated cuts to fibre optic cables were unprecedented.

“This sort of incident at this scale never happens,” one security source told AFP on condition of anonymity. “It’s the first time and we don’t know who it is for the moment.”

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CRIME

French court convicts 8 for stealing Banksy from Paris terror attack site

A French court on Thursday convicted eight men for the theft and handling of a Banksy painting paying homage to the victims of the 2015 attack on the Bataclan concert hall in Paris.

French court convicts 8 for stealing Banksy from Paris terror attack site

Three men in their 30s who admitted to the 2019 theft were given prison sentences, one of four years and two of three, although they will be able to serve them wearing electronic tracking bracelets rather than behind bars.

Another man, a 41-year-old millionaire lottery winner and street art fan accused of being the mastermind of the heist, was given three years in jail for handling stolen goods after judges found the main allegation unproven. His sentence will also be served with a bracelet.

Elsewhere in the capital, the defence was making its final arguments in the trial of the surviving suspects in the 2015 Paris attacks themselves, with a verdict expected on June 29.

‘Acted like vultures’ 

British street artist Banksy painted his “sad girl” stencil on the metal door of the Bataclan in memory of the 90 people killed there on November 13th, 2015.

A white van with concealed number-plates was seen stopping on January 26, 2019 in an alleyway running alongside the central Paris music venue.

Many concertgoers fled via the same alley when the Bataclan became the focal point of France’s worst ever attacks since World War II, as Islamic State group jihadists killed 130 people at a string of sites across the capital.

On the morning of the theft, three masked men climbed out of the van, cut the hinges with angle grinders powered by a generator and left within 10 minutes, in what an investigating judge called a “meticulously prepared” heist.

Prosecutor Valerie Cadignan told the court earlier this month that the perpetrators had not sought to debase the memory of the attack victims, but “being aware of the priceless value of the door were looking to make a profit”.

She said the thieves “acted like vultures, like people who steal objects without any respect for what they might represent”.

During the trial, Bataclan staff said the theft sparked “deep indignation”, adding that the painted door was a “symbol of remembrance that belongs to everyone, locals, Parisians, citizens of the world”.

Investigators pieced together the door’s route across France and into Italy, where it was found in June 2020 on a farm in Sant’Omero, near the Adriatic coast.

Three men involved in transporting the door were each jailed for 10 months, while a 58-year-old Italian man who owns a hotel where it was temporarily stored received a six-month suspended sentence.

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