Myanmar news website defaced by hackers

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BANGKOK (AP) — A website covering news about Myanmar was defaced by hackers on Thursday, a few days after its director won a prestigious press freedom award.

Aung Zaw said the attack on The Irrawaddy website was one of many it has faced. The attackers replaced the site's home page with a statement accusing it of supporting "Jihad & Radical Muslims." Aung Zaw linked the attack to a recent commentary he wrote about Buddhist extremists apparently backed by undemocratic members of the military.

Myanmar, a predominantly Buddhist nation, has been grappling with sectarian violence that has left up to 300 people dead and more than 140,000 homeless, most of them Muslims attacked by Buddhist extremists.

Aung Zaw was one of four recipients of this year's International Press Freedom Award from the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists, which said The Irrawaddy had been branded an "enemy of the state" by Myanmar's former military regime and still comes under pressure from the current elected but army-backed government.

The disruption to the site lasted several hours, Aung Zaw said. A group calling itself the "Blink Hacker Group" took credit for the attack. Attacks on sites linked to Muslims have been carried out in the group's name, but it has also taken credit for attacking Myanmar government websites.

The Irrawaddy's office in Yangon received a phone call this week threatening that it would be bombed or set on fire, Aung Zaw said. He said The Irrawaddy's Facebook page received an unusually large amount of hate messages after its recent reports on Buddhist extremists.

The Irrawaddy was founded by Myanmar journalists in exile in Thailand, and its main office is in the northern Thai city of Chiang Mai.

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