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Rediff.com  » News » Egyptian troops take 18 journos to safe place

Egyptian troops take 18 journos to safe place

February 04, 2011 22:28 IST

A total of 18 journalists, captured by thugs while they were covering the anti-government protests in Egypt, have been secured by military forces and taken to a "safe place," media reports said on Friday.

Egyptian military forces secured 18 journalists who were captured by thugs and took them to a "safe place," CNN quoted the Egyptian state media as saying.

It was unclear which news organisations the journalists worked for or where they had been taken, the report said.

Foreign journalists reported attacks by supporters of embattled President Hosni Mubarak near Tahrir Square in central Cairo, the focal point of increasingly violent mass demonstrations demanding the Egyptian leader step down after 30 years in power.

Journalists attempting to cover unrest in Egypt reported being beaten, arrested and harassed by security forces and police on Thursday, leading to sharply limited television coverage of the protests.

In the latest incident, the Al-Jazeera network on Friday said that a "gang of thugs" stormed its Cairo office and burned the facility and the equipment there.

Al-Jazeera said that over the last week "its bureau was forcibly closed, all its journalists had press credentials revoked, and nine journalists were detained at various stages."

Along with Al-Jazeera, other news outlets -- including the BBC, Al-Arabiya, ABC News, the Washington Post, Fox News, and CNN -- said members of their staffs had been attacked or otherwise targeted. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch also reported that staffers were detained.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), a New York-based advocacy organisation, said it had recorded 24 detentions, 21 assaults and five instances of equipment having been seized in the past 24 hours.

"With this turn of events, Egypt is seeking to create an information vacuum that puts it in the company of the world's worst oppressors, countries such as Burma, Iran and Cuba," CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon said.

Media watchdog IPI has also condemned the "orchestrated" attacks on reporters in Egypt.

"We are appalled at what appears to be an orchestrated campaign of violence directed at journalists covering the crisis in Egypt," International Press Institute spokesman Anthony Mills said in a statement.

Speaking on state-run TV yesterday, Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman mentioned the role of the media and, at least in part, blamed journalists for the current unrest.

"I actually blame certain friendly nations who have television channels, they are not friendly at all, who have intensified the youth against the nation and the state," he said.

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