International hacking group Anonymous has attacked Chinese Government websites in protest at the country's internet restrictions.
It comes after the Government tried to suppress rumours of a coup last month by banning key-words from China's search engines, blocking websites and removing barred content and comments from social networking sites.
Authorities are reportedly struggling to restore several official Government websites following the hacking with some of the sites still showing error messages.
Anonymous - internet activists who have defaced websites around the world - has taken credit for the internet blackout on a Twitter account set up in March - listing the websites it has hacked over the last few days.
They include the government bureaux in several Chinese cities, including in Chengdu, a provincial capital in south-west China.
The group's attack on the Chinese Government's internet sites was apparently in protest at the country's authoritarian online search restrictions.
Information on politically sensitive topics is routinely blocked while many key words have been barred to stop unwanted anti-Government rumours from circulating.
In a message left on one of the hacked Chinese sites - cdcbd.gov.cn, a home page for Chengdu's business district - the hackers expressed anger with the Chinese government for restrictions placed on the internet.
It said: 'All these years, the Chinese Communist Government has subjected its people to unfair laws and unhealthy processes.
'Dear Chinese government, you are not infallible, today websites are hacked, tomorrow it will be your vile regime that will fall.
'So expect us because we do forgive, never. What you are doing today to your Great People, tomorrow will be inflicted to you. With no mercy.'
The message also offered instructions on how to circumvent China's restrictions on its internet.
It comes just two weeks after comments containing rumours of the downfall of the country's Shanghai leadership faction, a reference to high-level officials who hail from the coastal financial hub, were removed from Chinese social networking sites.
Some of the comments claimed a possible 'military coup' had been attempted, along with other reports of gunfire and swarms of plain clothes and uniformed security officers on Changan Street, which is close to Tiananmen Square, the scene of the 1989 massacre of pro-democracy protesters.
All the reports have been removed by China's army of internet censors and can no longer be accessed.
© Daily Mail, London