Heba al-Qudsy, a reporter for the pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat, said she was attacked by a small crowd of "thugs" who stole her camera as she was photographing a rally in support of an independent candidate in the Bulak Abu al-Ela district of Cairo on Sunday evening.

 

"They ran toward me screaming 'What are you taking photos of?'," al-Qudsy, 34, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview as she waited to file a complaint in a local police station.

 

"They punched me so hard on the nose, and fled with my camera," she said, her voice breaking with emotion.

 

"I collapsed, and started crying. I had never been beaten before," she added. She said her nose and right arm were aching, and she had scratches on various parts of her body.

 

She said police officers on the scene chased the assailants and managed to retrieve her camera.

 

NDP accused

 

Police confirmed that al-Qudsy had filed a complaint in which she accused supporters of the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP).

 

Al-Qudsy said the attack would not stop her covering the elections, which began on Wednesday.

 

The second stage is on 20 November and the third on 1 December.

 

The rally on Sunday was part of runoffs scheduled for Tuesday in those constituencies where no candidate got more than half the votes on Wednesday.

 

Shortly after the polls closed on Wednesday, a veteran Egyptian correspondent for the Aljazeera channel, Ahmed Mansour, was attacked by two assailants in the street in front of his office in downtown Cairo.

 

Mansour, 43, made a live broadcast 30 minutes later with a bruised cheek and forehead.

 

He said: "Egypt should protect its honest sons."

 

During the 2000 parliamentary elections, there were numerous cases of journalists being attacked and having their equipment broken or stolen, even as police officers looked on.

 

The Foreign Press Association protested to the authorities, but no prosecutions followed.