Somalia restores internet connection after weeks of outage


MOGADISHU, July 17 (Reuters) - Somalia has restored its
internet connection after repairing a severed undersea cable, a
telecoms official said on Monday, after an outage that the
government said had cost the economy millions of dollars a day.
    However, a police officer said attacks by Islamist militants
had dropped during the outage that lasted more than three weeks.
    "The internet is now back and clients are using it," said
Adnan Ali, the media director for Hormuud Telecom, the country's
top operator.
    Businesses had to close or improvise to remain open during
the shutdown and the telecoms minister told state radio it cost
the equivalent of about $10 million in daily economic output.
    Information Minister Abdirahman Omar Osman apologised to
citizens on Tuesday for the outage, which hit all landline and
mobile users apart from those with access to private satellite
connections, and called for them to have back-up plans.
    "We urge internet companies to have a backup so that people
do not suffer another outage in the future," he told Reuters.
    Somalia's economy is picking up slowly after the army and an
African Union peacekeeping force helped drive Islamist group al
Shabaab out of Mogadishu and other strongholds.
    Al Shabaab wants to topple the Western-backed government and
rule the country according to its strict interpretation of
Islamic sharia law.
    Nur Bile, a police officer, said the number of reported
attacks by al Shabaab had dropped during the outage, accusing
the group of using the web to publicise its attacks and spread
its ideology.
    "There were almost no blasts in Mogadishu during the outage.
Al Shabaab launches the attacks and the media spreads the news
on the internet," Bile said.
    He said the police had uncovered three bombs planted in
vehicles in the capital Mogadishu on Monday.
    The militants were not available immediately to comment.
    Residents said the resumption of internet access was welcome
    "I have the chance to communicate with my lost friends and
relatives," said 25-year old Aden Ismail.

 (Reporting by Abdi Sheikh; Writing by Duncan Miriri; Editing by
Alison Williams)
 ((duncan.miriri@thomsonreuters.com; Tel: +254 20 4991239;
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