CAIRO, Feb. 2 (UPI) -- Violence between pro- and anti-government demonstrators increased Wednesday and spread to journalists covering protests against the Egypt's government.
Men identified as supporters of President Hosni Mubarak attacked protesters rallying in downtown Cairo, al-Masry al-Youm said. At least 10 people were injured in clashes.
Witnesses said the men, some riding camels and horses, stormed the crowd and attacked protesters with swords and iron chains despite the presence of military personnel.
Meanwhile, journalists covering the ninth day of protests found themselves targets of violence in Cairo's Tahrir Square by Mubarak supporters, The New York Times reported.
CNN correspondent Anderson Cooper reported being "set upon" by pro-government demonstrators and was "punched in the head".
Reporters Without Borders said it received dozens of confirmed reports of violence against local and international journalists in Egypt. Spokeswoman Tala Dowlatshahi said the group was prepared "to expect more foreign journalists to be targeted".
"The army has failed in its commitment to protect peaceful protesters," Hassiba Hadj-Sahraoui, Amnesty International's deputy director of the Middle East and North Africa, said in a statement. "The fact that such violence is allowed to continue as they stand there begs the question whether they have orders not to interfere".
The United States also expressed its concern about the growing violence.
"After days of peaceful protests in Cairo and other cities in Egypt, today we see violent attacks on peaceful demonstrators and journalists," the U.S. State Department said in a statement. "The United States denounces these attacks and calls on all engaged in demonstrations currently taking place in Egypt to do so peacefully".
The State Department said the attacks not only were dangerous to Egypt, but also a "direct threat to the aspirations of the Egyptian people. The use of violence to intimidate the Egyptian people must stop".
U.S. President Barack Obama also issued a statement decrying the upswing in violence, saying, "(We) are deeply concerned about attacks on the media and peaceful demonstrators. We repeat our strong call for restraint.
Demonstrators have called upon the 82-year-old Mubarak to end his three-decade rule now, instead of not seeking re-election in the next presidential elections in September. President Obama has said "an orderly transition must be meaningful, it must be peaceful, and it must begin now".
Mubarak announced on state television Tuesday he would not seek re-election in the upcoming elections, but thousands of protesters remained in Cairo's Tahrir Square Wednesday. In Alexandria, local television reported clashes between protesters and Mubarak supporters.
Mubarak said he wanted to push through political and economic changes before stepping down.
British Prime Minister David Cameron also urged the Egyptian government to present a clear timetable with details of the transfer of power, al-Masry al-Youm reported.
"President Mubarak says he is going and we respect that," Cameron said. "But what matters is not just the orderly transition but also that it is urgent, it is credible, it starts now. We should be clear we stand with those in this country who want freedom and democracy and rights the world over".
The targeting of reporters came as Internet access was restored in Egypt for the first time since last week, the Times reported.
"The Egyptian government is employing a strategy of eliminating witnesses to their actions" in a "series of deliberate attacks on journalists," said Mohamed Abdel Dayem of the Committee to Protect Journalists.
Nobel Peace Prize winner Mohamed ElBaradei, around whom opposition groups have coalesced, said allowing opposing groups to demonstrate in the same space was "calling for violence".
In an interview with the BBC, ElBaradei said the pro-Mubarak forces were "a bunch of thugs" and former members of the secret police.
If nothing else, ElBaradei said, the pro-Mubarak forces would "strengthen the resolve (of demonstrators) that Mr. Mubarak has to go". UPI