"CAIRO - Egyptian authorities launched an aggressive clampdown on foreign journalists and human rights activists Thursday, as the government sought to shift the blame for the violence that has swept the capital and said it was willing to talk with the country's biggest opposition group.
"In what the U.S. State Department called a "concerted campaign to intimidate," several dozen journalists were rounded up by security forces and detained for hours, along with foreigners working as teachers, engineers and human rights researchers. Across the city, angry bands of supporters of President Hosni Mubarak also beat journalists; several reporters said that they were threatened with death.
"The remarkable sweep came as thousands of opponents of Mubarak continued to gather in Tahrir Square, in the center of the city, as they have for the past 10 days, demanding that the authoritarian ruler end his 30-year reign. They have planned another large demonstration for Friday. Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq said late Thursday that the interior minister should not disrupt that gathering."