Manama: Oman News Agency (ONA) on Sunday said that its site had been hacked and that it was used to broadcast “incorrect news”.

The hackers singled out and mocked Algeria’s newly re-elected president Abdul Aziz Bouteflika as a handicapped “dictator”.

The hackers reportedly distorted a news story about a letter from Oman’s Sultan Qaboos to Bouteflika congratulating him for securing a fourth term in Thursday’s presidential election.

In the false letter, the Omani leader described Bouteflika as a “handicapped” president of the “dictatorship” of Algeria, according to newspapers in the Gulf and North Africa.

He also wished Bouteflika a “10th tenure” as a president, in a sarcastic reference to the Algerian leader’s 15 years in power, the reports said.

The letter was removed from ONA’s website.The agency in a text message sent to its subscribers warned that it had been the victim of a breach and that the news broadcast on its site were not correct.

“Oman News Agency wishes to draw the attention of its valued subscribers that its official site had been hacked and that some of the news posted on the site were not correct and were incompatible with its credibility and its editorial line,” the agency said.

“The Agency does apologise for the breach and confirms that it will diffuse news and reports in accordance with the Sultanate of Oman’s values of credibility, accuracy and mutual respect with all the countries,” the agency said.

The warning was posted on the site of the agency in Arabic, but without details on what type of “incorrect news” had been broadcast.

The news displayed in the Arabic section on Sunday afternoon were events that occurred on Sunday while those in the English section were from Saturday.

All six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries have news agencies that broadcast official news and reports, mainly in Arabic and English.

Oman News Agency was established on May 29, 1986.

- with inputs from AFP