PARIS- Several French cities suffered internet outages, a government minister said on Wednesday, confirming media reports of coordinated attacks on the country's communication infrastructure.
"Internet cables have been cut in the Ile-de-France region, which is affecting the landline and mobile network," Minister for Digital Affairs Cedric O said on Twitter.
"We are in touch with operators who are working to restore service," he added.
He did not mention vandalism or sabotage and a spokesperson at his cabinet declined to comment further. The police also declined to comment.
A spokesperson for Altice's French telecoms operator SFR said the group was the target of acts of vandalism that affected the company's broadband fibre optic network after 3 a.m. local time (0100 GMT) on Wednesday.
The attacks concerned long-distance cables linking Paris with the cities of Strasbourg and Lyon, the spokesperson said.
These long distance cables link large hubs to the broadband network and the internet, potentially affecting direct customers as well as other operators that rent SFR's network, such as Free, which also pointed to vandalism in a tweet.
SFR declined to provide further details on the location of the damaged underground cables. It also declined to say when full service would resume or elaborate on the number of cities and customers potentially affected.
Another long distance fibre network connection, linking Paris to the city of Lille, was also damaged, an industry source said.
French rival Orange, which operates a substantial part of the fibre network in the country, said it was not affected by the attacks.
Several French media reported major internet outages in big cities like Paris, Lyon, Bordeaux, Reims and Grenoble, quoting officials saying that vandalism or sabotage was suspected.
Le Parisien newspaper reported that underground cables had been damaged in France's Seine-et-Marne and Essone departments, adding that these cables were linking the hubs of Paris and Lyon.
(Reporting by Tassilo Hummel, Geert De Clercq and Mathieu Rosemain; editing by Alex Richardson, Chizu Nomiyama and Tomasz Janowski)