Tunisia's voter registration disrupted by hackers

Tunisians wait to register on 23 June  2014 in the capital Tunis Voter registration has been low ahead of presidential and parliamentary elections

Hackers have briefly disrupted online voter registration for elections in Tunisia later this year, the election commission has said.

Registration on the internet and by SMS was temporarily suspended following a "pirate attack", it added.

The commission, known as Isie, did not say who was behind the hacking.

The elections in October and November will be the second in Tunisia since long-serving ruler Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali was ousted in 2011.

The country has been hit by turmoil since then, with the moderate Islamist Ennahda party - which won the first poll - battling to assert its authority.

Tunisia is heavily polarised between Islamists and secular liberals.

'Sophisticated attack'

Isie had for the first time allowed registration to take place online and by SMS in order to boost registration.

A Tunisian vendor displays his dates on the first day of the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan, in a market in Tunis on 29 June 2014 Ramadan, when Muslims tend to break their fast with dates, may be a factor in the slow pace of registration

However, only a little more than 100,000 people had been added to the electoral list since the month-long registration process opened on 22 June, AFP news agency reports.

Journalist Naveena Kottoor told the BBC that the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, when most Tunisians fast between dawn and dusk, could be one factor in the sluggish pace of registration. It began on 29 June.

The internet has also been extremely slow in recent days, which she says could be an indication that a sophisticated hack attack is underway.

The Isie statement said that despite the constant attacks that it was facing and questions about its integrity it will press ahead with organising the election.

About four million Tunisians registered to vote in the first election after the popular uprising against Mr Ben Ali's rule.

Parliamentary elections are due to take place on 26 October and presidential elections on 23 November.

Under Ben Ali, Tunisia was said to have some of the world's toughest internet controls but these have now been dismantled.

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