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Reporters in Egypt Under Assault

French photojournalist Alfred Yaghobzadeh being treated by anti-government protesters in central Tahrir Square, Cairo, February 2, 2011

Journalists covering the protests in Egypt are being detained by security forces and attacked by supporters of President Hosni Mubarak in the capital, Cairo.

Security forces detained at least eight foreign journalists Thursday, and reporters have been targeted by angry Mubarak supporters who view media outlets as sympathetic to anti-government protesters.

VOA reporters in the capital were surrounded by several people who prevented them from traveling to Tahrir Square.

Journalists from CNN, Al Jazeera and other news organizations have reported similar attacks against them. They also say their equipment was broken or snatched from their hands while reporting on the chaos. Many reporters describe their attackers as pro-government demonstrators.

U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley condemned Thursday what he called a "concerted campaign" to intimidate international journalists in Cairo and interfere with their reporting."

On Wednesday, Belgium called for the immediate release of Belgian journalist Serge Dumont, who was arrested during protests after being attacked by unidentified civilians.

Media rights group Reporters Without Borders has condemned what it described as "shocking" attacks. The group's secretary-general, Jean-Francois Juilliard, said the attacks, 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."

The violence has been largely ignored by Egyptian state television, which began showing images from Cairo demonstrations on Wednesday for the first time since the anti-Mubarak gatherings and street chaos began last week.