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By Jonathan Landay and Mark Hosenball

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. government on Friday formally accused Russia of a campaign of cyber attacks against Democratic Party organizations during the campaign for the Nov. 8 presidential election.

U.S. officials have said in the past few months that they believe cyber attacks were orchestrated by hackers backed by the Russian government, possibly to disrupt the election in which Democratic Party candidate Hillary Clinton faces Republican Party candidate Donald Trump. Russia has dismissed allegations it was involved in cyber attacks on the organizations.

“We believe, based on the scope and sensitivity of these efforts, that only Russia’s senior-most officials could have authorized these activities,” a U.S. government statement said on Friday about hacking of political groups.

The statement by the Department of Homeland Security and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence did not blame the Russian government for hacking attempts against state election systems, but said “scanning and probing” of those systems originated in most cases from servers operated by a Russian company.

“These thefts and disclosures are intended to interfere with the U.S. election process,” the statement said. “However, we are not now in a position to attribute this activity to the Russian Government.”

The condemnation coincides with increasing tensions between Washington and Moscow on a range of international issues, from the Middle East to Ukraine and cyberspace.

(Reporting by Mark Hosenball and Jonathan Landay, writing by Dustin Volz and Julia Edwards; Editing by Grant McCool)

IMAGE: The headquarters of the Democratic National Committee is seen in Washington, U.S. June 14, 2016. REUTERS/Gary Cameron

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Screenshot from Army.mil

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