Libyan internet briefly returns as rebels storm capital

As Gaddafi's compound comes under fire by rebels storming the capital city of Tripoli, the Internet connection flickers back to life.

As Colonel Gaddafi struggles to hold back the rebel forces as they edge closer to Tripoli, the Libyan capital, after months of fighting, the nation's DSL connection flickered briefly back to life.

After the Internet was switched off in February by the Gaddafi regime, the massacres started and the de facto civil war began to unfold.

Throughout Sunday, reports across social networks signalled the light of the Libyan Internet being switched back on; perhaps in a bid to counter the rebel offensive, to be used as a propaganda tool for the Gaddafi forces.

Renesys, the Internet intelligence authority, said in a blog post that though a "steady stream of tweets and retweets emerged from Libyan sources," the picture is still "evolving".

Between 2 a.m. and 4:30 a.m, those with residential DSL connections had bursts of connectivity. Almost as soon as it began, the connections dropped again, as though nothing had happened.

During this same time period, Gaddafi's son Muhammad confirmed in a phone interview to Al-Jazeera television that he was under house arrest in Tripoli, after being captured by rebel forces. It is reported that another of Gaddafi's sons has been arrested, according to the BBC.

In March, the entire Internet connection to the country was cut -- presumably under the authority of Gaddafi himself -- in a bid to quell social media as a route of fighting against the regime --  a tactic seen in other countries during the Arab Spring uprising.

Further into the post, James Cowie, Renesys' chief technology officer, noted that the Internet connection had been "pulled at the international border", making WiMAX and DSL connections "essentially irrelevant".

The translation from the website -- the country's Internet service provider -- says: "God is great .... We congratulate the fall of the Libyan people under oppression and tyranny, and we urge the people to celebrate and preserve public property".

Update: According to Sophos, hackers broke into the ISP's website and defaced it with an anti-Gaddafi message. It is not clear whether the translated message seen below in the screenshot is also part of the hack.

Click for larger image

It appears that the LTT service provider independently restored access to the Internet for the last assault on Tripoli; only to be switched off by government hours later.

While rebel soldiers storm the Libyan capital, it appears the Internet is still inactive and unavailable; leading to suggestions that government has control over the country's web access.

Welcome back, #libya.

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