The vice-president of the International Publishing Association's offices came under heavy attack from government forces in Egypt this afternoon.
A reporter at the Al Shorouk newspaper, owned by IPA vice-president Ibrahim El Moallem, said she and her colleagues, including IPA vice-president Ibrahim El Moallem, had been under siege from “hundreds of men” carrying guns, knives and tear gas. The offices are based near Tahrir Square in Cairo,
The reporter, who gave her name as Rina, said demonstrators and the building’s security men defended the building and prevented it from being stormed, but several people were badly injured in the clash. She said the men were not uniformed but were believed to be men who supported the President, Hosni Mubarak.
She told The Bookseller: “It has been very drastic, the security forces are taking all the demonstrators by force. They are using tear gas. People are hurt and bleeding but we cannot get them help. We are trying to get them out of the square. Voluntary doctors have come to help but they cannot get them out.” The reporter said her colleagues had been warned the mob would return this evening.
The fighting started after skirmishes in the Egyptian capital between supporters of President Hosni Mubarak and demonstrators calling on him to step down immediately. Rival groups of protesters are engaging in battles in and around Cairo's Tahrir Square. Earlier, the army urged people to return home after nine days of anti-government demonstrations.
General secretary of the IPA, Jen Bammel, said El Moallem, owner of the Arab publisher Shorouk group, was uninjured in the attack but called on the publishing community to support their “colleague”.
“I have just now received a very worried phone call from the IPA Vice President Ibrahim El Moallem. He is very concerned that the old regime in Egypt is now turning the table and starting to use violence to quell the uprising. Ibrahim asked me to inform the IPA Officers and members of the threats of violence and the way the Egyptian regime is now fighting human rights,” Bammel wrote in an email.
The IPA has also been tweeting @ipasecretary. Its last tweet, posted around two hours ago, said: "Ibrahim El Moallem: asks publishers to support the Egyptian peopl [sic] in exercising their political freedom and human rights." An earlier tweet said El Moallem is worried "the Egyptian government is now resorting to violence to supress the newly gained freedoms".