Middle East

Egyptian photojournalists assaulted at protests

File - Dozens of Egyptian photojournalists take part in a demonstration to condemn violence against them and to defend their right to cover the news, in front of the Shura Council in Cairo, Egypt, March 19, 2013. (AP Photo/Khaled Dessouki, Pool)

CAIRO: An Egyptian photojournalist was killed, three were wounded with gunfire and six were arrested while covering the third anniversary of the start of the country's uprising that ousted longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak, their union said Tuesday.

While many Egyptians marked the day with celebration, violence marred demonstrations held by supporters of the ousted Islamist president as security forces fired tear gas and live ammunition to break up crowds. Dozens of people were killed in clashes.

Hossam Diab of the Egyptian Photojournalist Society told The Associated Press that freelancer Mohamed Helmy was shot dead while working for Qatar-based satellite broadcaster Al-Jazeera. Mohammed Fahmy, a photojournalist working for the center-right Wafd party newspaper, was shot in the face and underwent surgery to rebuild his mouth, Diab added.

Shootings and arrests were also intense at small gatherings held by secular youth activists who had led the 2011 anti-Mubarak uprising and are critical of both Islamists and the military, which assumed power and installed a civilian government after the coup against Mohammed Morsi.

The day also witnessed a rise of mob attacks on journalists, especially foreign ones.

More than a dozen journalists were beaten by demonstrators or detained by police for protection from angry crowds. Demonstrators at a pro-military rally attacked one female Egyptian journalist, mistakenly believing she worked for Al-Jazeera, which authorities consider biased toward Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood.

Since Morsi's overthrow last July, at least five journalists have been killed, 45 assaulted, and 11 news outlets raided, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. The New York-based group also reported that at least 44 journalists have been detained "without charge in pretrial procedures, which, at times, have gone on for months."

Three journalists working for Al-Jazeera's English channel have also been held since Dec. 29, with one of them spending long hours in solitary confinement. Authorities initially accused them of being part of a terrorist group, referring to the Brotherhood, and spreading false news about Egypt. They have yet to be formally charged.

Assaults on journalists have been on the rise over the past three years of tumult. Egypt has seen the ouster of two presidents, the rise and fall of the Islamists, and the return of the military to politics with the near-certain nomination of army chief Field Marshal Abdel-Fatah el-Sissi, in upcoming presidential elections.





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