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Al Jazeera studio in Cairo set ablaze after angry protest

posted 21 Nov 2012, 05:33 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 21 Nov 2012, 05:34 ]

Egyptian protesters attack the offices of television station Al Jazeera in Cairo, during protests in which more than 60 people were injured.

CAIROEGYPT (NOVEMBER 21, 2012) (REUTERS) - A studio used by the Al Jazeera TV network in Cairo was set on fire on Wednesday (November 21) in an attack that an employee said was carried out by a mob that had been chanting slogans against the Qatari-owned station.

Some people were injured in the attack on the Qatari-owned broadcaster but officials did not release any figures.

The first-floor office used by Al Jazeera Mubasher Misr, a station set up after the uprising that toppled President Hosni Mubarak, was badly damaged by fire.

The channel was dedicated to covering Egyptian affairs.

Eye witnesses say a group of around 200 people attacked the glass-fronted building of the broadcaster, launching Molotov cocktail bombs from the street below.

The studio's windows were smashed and two empty bottles, which had apparently been converted into fire bombs, were found inside the office.

"At about a quarter past 11 around 200 or 250 people gathered outside the studio in Tahrir Square," said Al Jazeera Executive Producer, Ahmed Desouki.

"They chanted against the channel, and cursed it, then they started pelting the studio from the outside with stones, they broke all the windows. Then they made Molotov cocktails and threw them into the studio,'' he added.

"A short while later around 200 people raided the studio, they came inside and raided the actual office and destroyed all the rooms,'' Desouki said.

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 overlooks Tahrir Square and is located near the scene of violent clashes between youths and the security forces this week in which dozens of people have been injured.

Those confrontations grew out of protests to mark the first anniversary of lethal street battles in the same area.

At least 61 people have been injured in three days of sporadic violence, some with bullet wounds.

On Wednesday, the clashes between demonstrators and state security were ongoing in nearby Mohamed Mahmoud Street.