CDU politican Julia Kloeckner watches TV debate between German Chancellor Angela Merkel of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and her challenger Germany's Social Democratic Party SPD candidate for chancellor Martin Schulz in Berlin, Germany, September 3, 2017. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

BERLIN (Reuters) – A top leader of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative party said her website had been hit by thousands of cyber attacks — many from Russian IP addresses — before Sunday’s televised election debate.
German intelligence and government officials have often voiced concerns that Moscow could seek to interfere in the Sept. 24 national election, in which Merkel is widely expected to win a fourth term.
Russia has repeatedly denied trying to influence foreign elections.
Julia Kloeckner, vice chairman of Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU), said on Monday that her political website had seen some 3,000 attacks on Sunday before the debate between Merkel and Social Democratic leader Martin Schulz.
Following a pattern seen in earlier hacks, the CDU’s headquarters in the state of Rhineland-Palatinate, where Kloeckner is the party’s leader, also experienced “massive attacks” ahead of the debate, she said.
“Many of the senders have …
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