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The website of an independent newsmagazine in Myanmar was hacked Oct. 2 by a group that accused the outlet of supporting “jihad” local media reported.

The Irrawaddy’s English-language website was defaced by a group of activists that call themselves the “Blink Hacker Group” who replaced the webpage with a black screen and a statement that read “Covering Muslims and Radical Muslims,” according to Mizzima, another Myanmar news portal.

The disruption to the Irrawaddy’s website lasted only four hours, but there are “strong suspicions” that Myanmar’s military may be behind the attack, said Shawn Crispin, the Committee to Protect Journalists’ Southeast Asia representative, in a statement. The news organization has also been targeted by extremist Buddhist groups in the past, the New York-based press freedom group said.

The most recent threats include an anonymous caller’s threat to “burn down and bomb” the Irrawaddy’s Rangoon-based bureau on Sept. 29 and death threats against reporter Thalun Zaung Htet posted on the organization’s Facebook page.

Founded in the early 1990s by exiled journalist Aung Zaw in Thailand, the Irrawaddy was allowed to open an office in Myanmar in 2012 along with a host of other exiled news organizations after the country came under the rule of a quasi-civilian regime that promised reforms. Zaw was recently given an International Press Freedom Award by CPJ.

Conflict between Myanmar’s Buddhist majority and Muslim minority left 200 people dead during rioting in 2012 after the rape and murder of a young Buddhist woman. In January, more than 40 Muslim men, women and children were killed in rioting following the killing of a Buddhist policeman, according to the BBC.

 

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