Mob sets Al-Jazeera offices ablaze in Tahrir Square
Unidentified assailants firebomb TV network's office in Cairo as protesters clash with Egyptian security forces.
CAIRO - A studio used by the Al Jazeera TV network was set on
fire on Wednesday in central Cairo as security forces and protesters fought in
the streets of the Egyptian capital for a third day.
Police said they had
arrested three men on suspicion of being involved in the attack and gave no
details on their identity or any affiliations.
The violence that has
wounded dozens and led to more than 100 arrests grew out of protests called this
week to mark the first anniversary of deadly street battles between police and
protesters opposed to army rule.
Egypt's streets have been calmer since
President Mohamed Morsi took power from the generals in July, after winning a
democratic presidential vote. Demonstrations by political and labor activists
remain frequent however, as Egyptians exercise their new right to
State TV referred to the violence in central Cairo as "organized
sabotage". In a statement, the government condemned the violence and listed
restoring security as a priority.
"Everybody is a citizen of this nation,
be they security men, soldiers or others. All should be aware that the stone
that is thrown wounds everyone, and the Molotov (petrol bomb) that is lit burns
the nation," a cabinet statement said.
The studio operated by Al Jazeera
Mubasher Misr, a station set up to cover domestic affairs after the uprising
that toppled President Hosni Mubarak, was badly damaged by the
Overlooking Tahrir Square, its windows were smashed and two empty
bottles, apparently used for petrol bombs, were found inside the office, Reuters
TV footage showed.
"There were 200 to 250 people gathered outside the
studio chanting against the channel," Ahmed Dessouki, a producer with the
channel, told Reuters television.
The Interior Ministry described the
perpetrators as "trouble makers" who had attacked police officers when they had
arrived to investigate, the state news agency reported. The public prosecutor
has ordered an investigation.
The studio is around the corner from
streets that have been the main site of this week's clashes and where several
hundred youths congregated for a third consecutive day on Wednesday, some of
them throwing rocks and lighting fires.
Television footage showed youths
throwing objects at buildings, including the American University in Cairo. At
one point, a group tried to break down the university gate.
said 118 people had been arrested and 76 wounded since Monday evening, when the
Last year's street battles started when police pulled down
the tents of protesters who had camped overnight in Tahrir Square after a
demonstration against the generals.
That prompted thousands of protesters
to return to the square, triggering clashes, later known as "Mohamed Mahmoud
events" after the street in which they took place.