In Bahrain, the latest flashpoint of anti-government protests in the Middle East, riot police resorted to firing rubber bullets and tear gas as tens of thousands of protesters stormed the landmark Pearl Square, demanding more jobs, release of political prisoners, broad constitutional reforms and an end to the 200-year long monarchy. At least, two people have been reported killed in the violence.
Meanwhile, in a series of continuing attacks on American journalists covering the successive outbursts and political turmoil in the region, ABC news reporter Miguel Marquez was caught by an angry mob in the capital Manama and beaten up with billy clubs, even as his camera was yanked away.
Marquez was on the phone talking to his channel when the incident occurred. An audio clip of the attack has been posted on the ABC news site and shows Marquez pleading to be spared and trying to reason with the crowd, saying that he was a journalist. The clip then suggests that Marquez had to scramble for safety, yelling I'm going! I'm going! I'm going! I'm going! ... I'm hit...I just got beat rather badly by a gang of thugs. A while later, he clarified that he was at a marketplace near the hotel.
Marquez is a veteran journalist who joined ABC News in 2005. Prior to that, he served as a Los-Angeles based correspondent for CNN. Since joining ABC News, he has been known for his extensive reporting of the Iraq war and especially for his part in reporting that al Qaeda terrorist Abu Musab Al Zarqawi had been killed, for which, incidentally, he also won an Emmy nomination.
ABC has confirmed that Marquez was not badly injured in the attack at Pearl Square, but media and society, at large, are shocked and shaken by what appears to be a growing trend of attacks on reporters covering the unrest in the region. CNN's Anderson Cooper and ABC's Christiane Amanpour were targeted by crowds in Cairo during anti-Mubarak protests but the most serious assault was on CBS reporter Lara Logan who was beaten and sexually assaulted on the night of celebrations post Mubarak's resignation.
Logan is currently recuperating at home in Washington. On Wednesday, the Associated Press reported that President Obama called Lara Logan at home to convey his concern and wishes for her, but did not disclose the details of the conversation.