Anderson Cooper details attack by angry Cairo mob

LOS ANGELES Wed Feb 2, 2011 3:27pm EST

Television personality Anderson Cooper arrives at ''An Enduring Vision,'' a benefit dinner for the Elton John Aids Foundation in New York November 16, 2009. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

Television personality Anderson Cooper arrives at ''An Enduring Vision,'' a benefit dinner for the Elton John Aids Foundation in New York November 16, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Lucas Jackson

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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - CNN's Anderson Cooper said he and his crew were punched and kicked in Cairo on Wednesday by supporters of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, but that they escaped with just scratches as anti-government protests turned deadly.

The incident occurred as supporters of Mubarak rushed a crowd of his detractors, charging on horses and camels and wielding sticks and petrol bombs. The anti-Mubarak protesters fought back by throwing rocks at their attackers.

Cooper told Reuters in a phone interview from Egypt that he and his CNN crew were walking through a crowd of Mubarak supporters heading toward the melee, when a man tried to grab their camera.

Members of the crowd punched and kicked Cooper in the head and body, and set upon the rest of the crew, including female producer Maryanne Fox, he said.

"We were moving quickly and a bunch of guys who hit us were also on the move, a lot of it was sort of glancing blows," Cooper said.

The TV journalist said he and his crew escaped with just scratches, but that the crowd tried to tear off Fox's clothes.

"There was some thought that maybe someone in the crowd recognized me, but I couldn't know for sure," Cooper said. "I think anyone with a camera is under threat in that crowd."

Escorted by some of the protesters, the journalists were able to get away to a building where they ascended several stories and described the melee in a broadcast on CNN.

Separately, ABC journalist Christiane Amanpour said in a statement that she and her crew also were confronted on Wednesday in Cairo by protesters.

"An angry mob surrounded us and chased us into the car, shouting that they hate America," Amanpour said. "They kicked in the car doors and broke our windshield as we drove away."

Egyptian state television reported at least one death from Wednesday's protest, along with more than 400 people wounded. The clashes followed recent days of relatively calm protests in Egypt where anti-government demonstrators are calling for Mubarak to resign.

Mubarak, 82, declared on Tuesday that he would not stand in elections scheduled for September, but protesters continue to deride the president and demand that he step down immediately.

(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis: Editing by Bob Tourtellotte)

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