Web activists attacked and temporarily crippled several Tunisian government websites in an act of protest against the country’s embattled leadership.
At least eight websites were targeted, including those of the president, prime minister, ministry of industry, ministry of foreign affairs, and the stock exchange, Al Jazeera reports. The attack, which began Sunday night, coincided with a national strike, planned to take place Monday.
The current administration has curbed the flow of information out of Tunisia since widespread protests began Dec. 17, following a university graduate’s suicide attempt after police confiscated the fruits and vegetables he sold without a permit. However, reports of civil disobedience and police action made it out on Twitter on Monday, with some users reporting the use of tear gas by security forces, Al Jazeera said.
The loosely organized hacktivist group Anonymous claimed responsibility for the cyber attack, which it called Operation Tunisia. In a manifesto circulating online, Anonymous said it had cyber attacked the Tunisian government because of its “war on free speech.”
“This is a warning to the Tunisian Government: violation of the freedom of speech and information of its citizens will not be tolerated,” the statement said. “Cyber Attacks will persist until the Tunisian Government respects all Tunisian citizens rights to Free Speech and Information and ceases the censoring on the internet.”
Operation Tunisia came just days after a similar attack on Zimbabwean government websites in which Anonymous targeted President Robert Mugabe’s administration for withholding information about the thousands of U.S. diplomatic cables WikiLeaks has released.