DUBAI, (Reuters) – The Qatar-based satellite channel Al Jazeera said Friday that its office in Egypt’s capital Cairo had been burnt and destroyed by “gangs of thugs.”
The news channel, which was ordered earlier this week to stop its operations in Egypt, accused the Egyptian authorities or its supporters of trying to thwart its coverage of political unrest in the North African country.
“The Al Jazeera Network have reported that their office in Cairo has been stormed by gangs of thugs. The office has been burnt along with the equipment inside it,” it said in a statement.
“It appears to be the latest attempt by the Egyptian regime or its supporters to hinder Al Jazeera’s coverage of events in the country.”
The network said it would continue to report from Egypt.
Last Sunday, the Egyptian Information Ministry ordered Al Jazeera to shut down its operations in the country, and withdrew accreditation to its staff, according to the network.
Thursday, the news channel said three of its journalists were released after being detained by Egyptian authorities while covering that country’s massive street protests. Tens of thousands of people have taken to the streets for the past days in Egypt demanding an end to President Hosni Mubarak’s authoritarian 30-year rule, in protests that have sent shock waves through the Arab world.
Al Jazeera’s coverage of political unrest in Egypt has been widely watched throughout the Middle East, and criticised by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s supporters.
Launched in Qatar in 1996, Al Jazeera has more than 400 reporters in over 60 countries, according to its website.
Thursday, the United States and Britain condemned the intimidation of various foreign reporters covering protests against Mubarak and said the Egyptian government must not target journalists.