Page last updated at 07:10 GMT, Friday, 1 May 2009 08:10 UK

Sri Lankan army website 'hacked'

Partially retored army wesbite
The army website is at least partially back

The website of the Sri Lankan army has been attacked by suspected Tamil Tiger hackers, government officials said.

Material on the site - - was removed and replaced with graphic photographs of what were said to be civilian victims of the civil war.

The army website is now being restored by technicians.

The government and Tamil Tigers are engaged in a fierce propaganda war as the conflict in the north-east rages in a small stretch of land.

'Inevitable defeat'

The Sri Lankan defence ministry quoted the army's "webmaster" as saying the attack was a "desperate bid by the LTTE [Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam] propagandists to hold the truth on the humanitarian mission being revealed to the world".

The defence ministry said the Tigers had been using the internet "to launch their misinformation and disinformation campaigns" but what it called "innovative counter actions" introduced at the end of 2005 by Secretary of Defence Gotabaya Rajapaksa had tackled the problem.

It said the cyber attack was "another sign of the LTTE's inevitable defeat".

Sri Lankan civilians
The Tigers have released many photos they say are of wounded civilians

When the website partially returned, the army said it had been "technically assassinated" by suspected rebels using "horrible and gruesome images".

There has been no comment so far from the Tamil Tigers on the issue.

On Friday the pro-rebel TamilNet website praised the recent trip by UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband and French counterpart Bernard Kouchner.

Quoting "Tamil political circles" it said: "What was positive about the visit of the foreign ministers to Colombo was the two showing much progress in grasping the nature of the crisis in the island."

The ministers called for a ceasefire in the north-east and greater access to tens of thousands of civilians either trapped in the war zone or living in government-run camps.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa again ruled out a ceasefire and said foreign envoys should not preach about civilian welfare.

"It is my duty to protect the people of this country. I don't need lectures from Western representatives," he said.

The Sri Lankan military has restricted Tamil Tiger rebels to a 10 sq km (6 sq miles) area of land and believes it is close to defeating them.

The Tamil Tigers have fought for an independent homeland for Sri Lanka's Tamil minority since 1983.

More than 70,000 people have been killed in the war, but that figure could now be far higher.

Sri Lanka map

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