Independent Newspapers today came under attack from an organisation that claimed it did it because of the media group’s alleged support of Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe.

The attack led to Independent Newspaper’s internet and e-mail systems going down at 11am. According to IOL editor Alastair Otter, the system crashed because of a denial of service (DoS) attack, an attack in which servers are flooded by a huge volume of traffic. The volume of the traffic slows down the servers and, in the worst cases, effectively shuts down the website.

Just before the attack, a group calling themselves Anonymous Africa, with the Twitter handle @Zim4thewin, sent out this tweet: “Please note everyone. Today #IOL will be attacked for ignoring the genocide against the Ndebele people and for supporting a dictator.”

Minutes later they wrote: “@IOL Tick tock 3 minutes left until the African spring tidal wave hits your corrupt mouthpiece.” The tweets then counted down to 11am, when they wrote: “@iol You are now tango down! for crimes against humanity!”

Then came the taunt: “IOL bad boys bad boys what you ganna do, what you ganna do when they come for you,” quoting the Inner Circle song.

The website and related services were restored by around 1pm.

"As a news organisation that includes more than a dozen newspapers as well as online properties we publish a range of opinions, including some that may not be popular," said Otter. "Publishing these does not imply that we agree, or disagree, with those views. We pride ourselves on allowing and publishing a multiplicity of views. It is unfortunate that anyone could use this simple principle of media as an excuse for an attack on us." - IOL