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France's Orange says Guinea network suffered cuts without prior warning

FILE PHOTO: People walk past a shop of French telecom operator Orange in Cairo, Egypt, April 6, 2016. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

DAKAR (Reuters) - French telecoms operator Orange ORAN.PA said on Sunday its subsidiary in Guinea has suffered cuts to outgoing international communications links over the past 72 hours, without prior warning.

Orange said the service interruption at the level of Guilab, a telecoms infrastructure company that manages the West African nation’s connection to a high speed submarine communication cable, affected voice calls, roaming and internet services.

Internet and phone calls have been severely disrupted in Guinea after preliminary results of the hotly contested Oct. 18 presidential election showed that incumbent President Alpha Conde had won a disputed third term, sparking violent unrest. At least 20 people have been killed since the vote.

Guinea’s government, which holds a majority stake in Guilab, has cut internet access in the past during times of unrest.

A spokesman for the government could not be reached for comment.

Orange said in the statement late on Sunday that international voice calls and roaming services were re-established on Saturday evening.

It said it was surprised the cuts only affected Orange’s links. The company did not receive any notification of non-compliance with its obligations or a breach of Guinea’s laws, it said.

Orange is one of the main telecoms operators in Guinea's mobile telecoms market that also includes South Africa's MTN MTNJ.J and Cellcom.

Reporting by Bate Felix; editing by Richard Pullin

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