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Journalists attacked, detained in Cairo

February 3, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
As anti and pro-government demonstrators continue to fight over the fate of Egypt's president, foreign journalists are now being attacked near Tahrir Square.

The New York Times, Washington Post and Al-Jazeera report their correspondents have been detained. The BBC says security forces have seized the network's equipment at a Cairo hotel.

CNN's Anderson Cooper was repeatedly punched in the head, and ABC's Christiane Amanpour was also attacked by a hostile crowd.

"We were set up on by pro-Mubarak supporters, punching us in the head. It was pandemonium. There was really no control to it. Suddenly, a young man would come up, look at you, and then punch you right in the face," Cooper said.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs denounced reports of "systematic targeting" of journalists in Egypt. The State Department described it as a "concerted campaign to intimidate."

"I think we need to be clear that the world is watching the actions that are taking place right now in Egypt," Gibbs said.

Egypt's vice president Omar Suleiman blamed foreigners and a major opposition group for the anti-government protests.

Fire bombs, rocks and even bullets from automatic weapons are the weapon of choice for pro and anti-Mubarak protesters. In many cases, it's come to just hand-to-hand street fighting.

For the first time, the Egyptian military is starting to separate the two sides. But the damage has been done, as the death toll rises. At least eight people have been killed.

On Thursday morning, President Barack Obama addressed the fighting in Egypt at a prayer breakfast in Washington D.C. The president said he prays that the conflict will be resolved peacefully.

"We pray that the violence in Egypt will end, and that the rights and aspirations of the Egyptian people will be realized, and that a better day will dawn over Egypt and throughout the world," Obama said.

President Hosni Mubarak insists his son will not succeed him in Egypt's elections this fall.

In the meantime, anti-Mubarak demonstrators, now in their 10th day of protests, appear to be exhausted, but they promise they won't give up until he leaves office.