The Zimbabwe African National Union (Zanu-PF) website, Zimbabwean government website and Zimbabwean Finance Ministry website were the target of cyber attacks on Thursday by a loose-knit group of online hacktivists known as "Anonymous."

The websites were hit with distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks after Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's wife, Grace Mugabe, sued a newspaper for publishing a WikiLeaks cable that alleged she was connected with illicit diamond trade.

All three websites targeted by "Anonymous" were knocked offline and the Finance Ministry website was also defaced with messages saying "We are Anonymous" and "The world hates us, we kill our own people, we have no control of the economy, we repress free speech, we kill and rape for fun, we are Zanu-PF."

The website AnonNews announced that the group was "targeting Mugabe and his regime in the ZanuPF who have outlawed the free press and threaten to sue anyone publishing Wikileaks."

Grace Mugabe filed a defamation lawsuit against Zimbabwe's Standard newspaper for $15 million after the paper quoted a leaked US diplomatic cable that said she and nine other high-ranking Zimbabwean officials make "tremendous profits" from the sale of illegal diamonds.

"The CEO of a British mining company described to us how high-ranking Zimbabwean government officials and well-connected elites are generating millions of dollars in personal income by hiring teams of diggers to hand-extract diamonds from the Chiadzwa mine in eastern Zimbabwe," the cable stated.

"They are selling the undocumented diamonds to a mix of foreign buyers including Belgians, Israelis, Lebanese, Russians and South Africans who smuggle them out of the country for cutting and resale elsewhere."

The Parade magazine labeled President Mugabe the worst dictator of 2009, noting that during elections in 2008, his "supporters launched attacks on the opposition, killing 163 and torturing or beating 5000." According to the Sunday Times, Mugabe's militia murdered the wife of his political opponent in 2008 by chopping off one of her hands and both her feet and then burning her alive.

In a campaign known as "Operation Payback" members of "Anonymous" succeeded in taking down the online operations of PayPal, MasterCard Worldwide, Visa, Swiss bank PostFinance and others after the companies dropped their financial services to WikiLeaks.

The FBI raided Dallas-based Tailor Made Services, an Internet hosting company, in mid-December seizing one of its servers as part of an international criminal investigation into cyber attacks against online payments firm PayPal.