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Governments, Rights Groups Decry Attacks on Journalists in Egypt

AP photographer Nasser Gamil Nasser after being beaten by a policeman and injured while shooting protests in Cairo, January 25, 2011

Belgium has demanded that Egyptian authorities release a Belgian journalist detained and beaten while covering the violent uprising on the streets of Cairo.

Belgian Foreign Minister Steven Vanackere has called for the immediate release of Serge Dumont, who was arrested on Wednesday after being attacked by unidentified civilians.

Reporters from CNN, Al Jazeera and other news organizations say they have been attacked and their equipment broken or snatched from their hands while reporting on the chaos.

U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley denounced the attacks on both journalists and peaceful demonstrators on Wednesday. He said the use of violence to intimidate the Egyptian people must stop.

Media rights group Reporters Without Borders condemned what it described as "shocking" attacks. The group's secretary-general, Jean-Francois Juilliard, said they seem to have been acts of revenge designed to silence journalists.

A spokesman for the Committee to Protect Journalists blamed the Egyptian government for a series of "deliberate attacks on journalists carried out by pro-government mobs."

Sunday, Egyptian officials ordered the closure of the Cairo offices of the Qatar-based Al Jazeera news network, which has been covering the protests heavily.

Reporters from Australia, Europe, the Middle East and the United States have all reported being attacked. Many describe their attackers as pro-government demonstrators.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.