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Hackers attack two Belgian media groups

Hackers launched attacks Monday against the Belgian media groups Rossel and IPM, targeting the websites of newspapers in Belgium and France, officials said.

The Rossel group was already subject Sunday to a major cyber attack, which blocked access for several hours to the websites of the Belgian daily Le Soir and the French regional newspaper La Voix du Nord.

It informed the police early on Monday.

“People tried again today, but it (the attack) was less serious and powerful,” Rossel managing director Bernard Marchant told AFP by phone late Monday.

The French dailies L’Union de Reims and L’Ardennais were forced to close their websites for at least half an hour.

He said Le Soir and La Voix du Nord were also targeted but gave no details.

The Belgian daily announced later on its Twitter account: “Le Soir victim of a new cyber attack Monday evening. Access to the site may be unstable. We’re working on it.”

The websites of all four newspapers were accessible after 2100 GMT.

Meanwhile, the websites of two Belgian dailies belonging to IPM group, La Libre Belgique and La Derniere Heure, were also targeted by hackers, they said.

“It’s exactly the same kind of attack as that which hit Rossel,” Ralph Vankrinkelveldt, the editor in chief of La Derniere Heure, told the Belga news agency.

The two sites were still inaccessible after 2100 GMT.

In a cyber attack Friday on Belgium’s regional Wallonian government website, hackers identified as the “Fallaga Team” from Tunisia ran a video followed by a message saying: “Take your heads out of the sand, struggle against your leaders, join the resistance.”

Press reports said the Islamist militant Fallaga Team had hacked several French institutions shortly after the Islamist attacks in Paris in January which left 17 people dead.

But Le Soir’s director Didier Hamann said Sunday there was nothing concrete to indicate the incidents were linked to each other or to a massive cyber attack against French station TV5Monde on Wednesday which Paris said was likely a “terrorist act.”

The TV5Monde hackers said French President Francois Hollande had committed “an unforgivable mistake” by joining a US-led air campaign against the extremist Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq.

Belgium is also part of the US-led operation and in February said it would send around 35 soldiers to Iraq to help train its army in the fight against IS.