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Suspects, aged between 17 and 40, are suspected of planning coordinated cyber-attacks against institutions including Colombia's defense ministry and presidential websites, Chile's Endesa electricity company and national library, as well as other targets. The arrests followed an ongoing investigation begun in mid-February which also led to the seizure of 250 items of IT equipment and mobile phones in searches of 40 premises in 15 cities, Interpol said.

Tobias Schwarz/Reuters

The activist hacker group Anonymous plans to launch further attacks on Chinese government websites in a bid to uncover corruption and lobby for human rights, a member of the group said on Monday.

Anonymous, a loosely knit group that has attacked financial and government websites around the world, hacked into Chinese government websites last week, defacing several, media reports said.

The group used the Twitter account " Anonymous China" to publicize the attacks, posting links to data files that contained passwords and other personal information from the hacked websites.

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"First we want to alert the Chinese government that we aren't afraid, and we are going to show the truth and fight for justice," Anonymous hacker "f0ws3r" told Reuters.

The hacker, who declined to provide any personal details, was contacted through Anonymous China's Twitter page. F0ws3r said the group planned more serious attacks against Chinese websites.

"Yes, we are planning more attacks, a few at a time," f0ws3r said, adding that the plan was to take down the "Great Firewall of China."

China blocks Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and many other websites citing a need to maintain social stability.

F0ws3r said the Anonymous China group consisted of 10 to 12 hackers, most of whom were not based in China, and had "hundreds" of translators working with them to hack the Chinese websites.

The hacker declined to give further details on the next round of attacks, except to say it may hit bigger targets.

The United States says it has suffered many high-profile hacking attacks that appear to come from China, often targeting human rights groups as well as U.S. companies. China maintains that it too is a victim of hacking attacks.

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The various local Chinese governments whose websites were reportedly hacked last week could not be reached for comment and were operating normally on Monday.

In March, the U.S. authorities revealed that leading Anonymous hacker "Sabu" was arrested in June and was acting as an informant for authorities.

Anonymous and LulzSec, an offshoot of Anonymous that took credit for a range of hacking attacks on government and private sector websites worldwide, leapt to prominence in late 2010 when they launched what they described as the "first cyber war" in retaliation for attempts to shut down the Wikileaks website.

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