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Syrian cell phones, internet down after wave of arrests

Posted by on April 3, 2011 0 Comment

Communication networks failed in Syria on Sunday, one day after authorities arrested dozens of pro-democracy activists in a crackdown against anti-government protests.

“There is an arrest campaign and phone lines are down so people are suspecting interference but the government says it is a technical problem,” a resident of Douma, north of Damascus, told AFP.

In the capital, the internet was down and cell phone communications were practically impossible, although land lines seemed to be working fine.

A customer representative of Syria’s phone and internet provider told AFP the problem “was due to an overload of connections” without adding further details.

Syriatel and MTN, Syria’s two phone companies, offered customers one hour of free calls valid between April 2 and 6 “in recognition of the people who stood with the President [Bashar] al-Assad during the day of dignity.”

They were referring to pro-regime demonstrations in the capital Tuesday.

But on Friday thousands of Syrians marched across the country, calling for reforms, disappointed by a presidential speech which failed to lift a state of emergency in place since 1963.

Assad on Wednesday blamed conspirators for deadly unrest in Syria but failed to lift emergency rule or offer other concessions in his first speech since protests demanding greater freedoms erupted earlier this month. Agencies

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