Internet Down in Egypt, Tens of Thousands Protest In ‘Friday of Wrath’

(Updates with fresh reports from Egypt)

Mobile-phone texting, Blackberry messaging and internet service are suffering a major outage in Egypt as tens of thousands of protesters demonstrated across the country to demand the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak in what was billed as a “Friday of Wrath.”

Reuters reported that police were using rubber bullets, water cannon and teargas to disperse protesters, some of whom were gathered in a neighborhood near a residential palace belonging to Mubarak.

Vodafone said mobile operators in Egypt had been instructed to suspend services in selected areas, internet access was blocked shortly after midnight and mobile phone and text messaging services also appeared to be disabled or working sporadically, Reuters reported.

E-mails Threat Level sent to sources in Cairo went unanswered. And links to Egyptian-based blogs we’ve been following are not available.

Internet monitoring firm Renesys said that as of 12:34 am ET: “Virtually all of Egypt’s Internet addresses are now unreachable, worldwide.”

“This is a completely different situation from the modest Internet manipulation that took place in Tunisia, where specific routes were blocked, or Iran, where the Internet stayed up in a rate-limited form designed to make Internet connectivity painfully slow,” Jim Cowie of Renesys, said in a blog post. “The Egyptian government’s actions tonight have essentially wiped their country from the global map.

Many activists inside and out of the country suspect the Mubarak regime had locked up access, as Twitter and Facebook have been organizing tools for Friday’s anti-government revolt and for other protests earlier in the week. Egyptian service provider Seabone, based in Italy, said internet in and out of the volatile nation ceased shortly after midnight local time, the AP said.

See our earlier Danger Room story Thursday for a closer look at the causes of the protests, and how social-media is fomenting the firestorm.

You can follow the Arab world protests through a new Wired Wiki.

Photo: Al Jazeera English/Flickr

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