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3 Red Sea data cables cut as Houthis launch more attacks in the vital waterway

Three undersea cables in the Red Sea that provide global internet and telecommunications were severed last week, according to officials. The cause remains unclear, but their sabotage could further disrupt global connectivity at a time when shipping in the vital waterway has already been affected by the ongoing conflict in Yemen.

The affected cables – Asia-Africa-Europe 1, Europe India Gateway, Seacom and TGN-Gulf – handle an estimated 25% of data traffic flowing through the Red Sea, according to Hong Kong-based HGC Global Communications. The company stated it had begun rerouting services to alternative routes.

Tim Stronge, a submarine cable expert with US-based research firm TeleGeography, noted HGC Global Communications’ description of the Seacom-TGN-Gulf line as two separate cables was inaccurate, as it is a single cable in the location of the cut.

Indian conglomerate Tata Communications, which co-owns the Seacom-TGN-Gulf line through a consortium, confirmed an “appropriate response” had been initiated, noting its diverse cable investments allow automatic rerouting of services in disruption scenarios.

While the Houthi rebels in Yemen denied targeting the cables, the conflict has seen them conduct multiple attacks on vessels in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden in recent months. This includes the downing of a US military drone and attacks on cargo ships, including some carrying aid or Iran-bound materials.

The rebels insist such attacks will only cease once Israel ends its operations against Hamas in Gaza, though they have provided no evidence to support claims foreign militaries sabotaged undersea infrastructure.

Separately, a container ship affiliated with Israel reportedly came under rocket fire while traversing the Gulf of Aden, sustaining damage but no casualties according to its distress signal. A Houthi spokesman later claimed responsibility, while the US military acknowledged the incident but noted the vessel did not require assistance.

With no apparent Houthi diving capability, it remains unclear how exactly the cables were cut. However, their severing threatens further global disruption and escalation if not resolved. All parties must act with restraint and prioritise civilian safety amid this complex maritime conflict.

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