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Cyber Attack Shuts Down Senegalese Government Websites

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A group of hackers took official websites of Senegalese government offline overnight on Friday as they targeted the government websites with denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks. The spokesperson of the government mentioned the name of the hacking group as Mysterious Team.

The hacking group used the hashtag #FreeSenegal to reveal that they were the ones behind the act. The hashtag was used by campaigners alleging political repression in Senegal.

Senegal is witnessing political unrest and the cyber attack has been seen as strategic at this time. A person was killed in the violent political situation between state security personnel and supporters of the opposition on Friday.

Government spokesperson Abdou Karim Fofana said in a statement regarding the early-morning Saturday cyber attacks that all attempts were being made to restore the sites to service. The presidency’s website was restored by Saturday night, but the government and finance ministry websites appeared to be unavailable.

DDoS function by moving large amounts of internet traffic in the direction of specific servers in an effort to take them offline.  The Mysterious Team gang describes its members as “cyber warriors from Bangladesh” on its Twitter account.

Not much detail is known about the group, but the European Repository of Cyber occurrences, an independent research consortium that studies cyber occurrences, claims that it has previously launched cyberattacks against the Ethiopian health ministry and Indian media.

It was unclear how Senegal and Bangladesh were related. When asked by British news agency Reuters regarding the reasons behind its attack on the Senegalese government, a Mysterious Team official responded, “We are working for justice for Senegal innocent peoples.”

Senegal has been witnessing occasional violent protests since two years during which time one of the heated topic of tension has been opposition worries that Sall might win the presidential election for the third time in February 2024.

The opposition has also charged Sall’s administration with manipulating the legal system to target possible rivals like the popular politician Ousmane Sonko, who came third in the 2019 presidential election. Opposition has claimed political motivation behind the current legal proceedings against Sonko, the government has however contested their claims.

One 37-year-old man was reportedly killed during conflicts between security personnel and Sonko’s supporters in the city of Kolda on Friday, according to a regional prosecutor on Saturday. The region was along Sonko’s route for his continued march back to the city. Sonko had appealed to his followers to join the march to resist the ruling forces.

In a statement released on Saturday, the opposition coalition Yewwi Askan Wi claimed that the police were to blame for the killing and that they had blocked Sonko’s convoy’s access to the road in order to incite a violent confrontation. An investigation, according to the prosecutor, has been started.

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