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CNN's Anderson Cooper attacked by pro-Mubarak mob: 'They're beating people up on the streets'

February 2, 2011 | 11:23 am

 

CNN's Anderson Cooper and his production crew were attacked by a group of demonstrators in Egypt on Wednesday. Reporting from Cairo, Cooper said during a phone interview that he was punched in the head multiple times by supporters of President Hosni Mubarak, and that the mob also assulted his crew and destroyed their equipment.

"There’s a number of individuals who have come on the pro-Mubarak side today to get into a fight," said Cooper, who added that pro-Mubarak agitators are targeting anyone with a camera. "They're beating up people in the streets. We just heard a long volley of shots. We’re seeing more molotov cocktails being thrown, and it’s dark now, so it seems even more risky now that night has come."

Cooper said that the violence marked a turning point for the protests in Cairo's Tahrir Square. "For the past eight days, it’s been anti-Mubarak demonstrators and we haven’t seen weaponry demonstrated by protesters," he said. "But starting early [Wednesday] morning, a large group of pro-Mubarak protesters were gathering under my live shot location and starting to throw rocks. They’ve been out in large groups today. It’s defintiely been a change of tactics that we’ve seen on the streets."

This isn't the first time that Cooper has become part of the story he's covering. While reporting in Haiti early last year, he carried an injured boy away from a chaotic looting scene. Asked if he believes it's important to draw the line between journalism and first-person reporting, he said that getting involved in the story wasn't his choice. "There wasn’t any action that I took in any way to get involved," he said. "I would definitely prefer to keep myself out of being punched in the head."

"To me, the story today is not me being attacked, it’s the melee that continues," he added. "This is a stunning development, and it’s not clear what kind of impact it’s going to have. Is it going to enrage people who’d been standing on the sidelines to see these anti-Mubarak protesters attacked in such an organized way, with the Egyptian military standing by not doing anything to intervene? Perhaps. Will it scare people? Maybe it will have that effect. We don’t know."

--Melissa Maerz

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