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Journalist beaten by Afghan mob

LONDON, England -- A British journalist has been attacked and beaten by a mob of Afghan refugees in Pakistan.

Robert Fisk, 55, a veteran foreign correspondent for the London-based Independent national newspaper, was assaulted when his car broke down on the road between the border city of Quetta and Charnan.

He suffered head, face and hand injuries after being pelted with stones when he was set upon by a group of up to 100 people.

Recovering at his hotel in Quetta, the veteran journalist told the Press Association: "It was a very frightening experience and I am in a lot of pain but I am glad to be alive.

"I'm going to bear the scars for the rest of my life - sadly I broke down in the wrong place at the wrong time."

Fisk, the newspaper's Middle East correspondent, had been travelling to Charnan when his car overheated and broke down close to a village housing refugees who had fled across the border from Afghanistan.

He got out of the vehicle and was attempting to push it to the side of the road when a group of 40 to 50 people gathered.

"At first they were reasonably friendly but then a little kid threw a stone at me. More stones followed and then I find myself being punched and beaten in the face.

"My glasses were smashed and my spare glasses were ripped away from me. I was covered in blood and couldn't see anything. I was obviously frightened."

Fisk said he fought back and began lashing out at the mob, whose numbers swelled to about 100.

He knocked a couple of his attackers to the ground but was then rescued by a Muslim religious leader, who forced the mob back and guided him to a police wagon.

"Without his intervention I would now be dead," he said.

He made it back to his hotel in Quetta, where he was given further medical attention by two Pakistani doctors.

But Fisk said he could understand the mob's anger.

"I later found out that the village housed lots of Afghan refugees, whose relatives had been killed just last week in the American bombing of Kandahar," he said.

"It doesn't excuse them for beating me up so badly but there was a real reason why they should hate Westerners so much.

"I don't want this to be seen as a Muslim mob attacking a Westerner for no reason. They had every reason to be angry -- I've been an outspoken critic of the US actions myself. If I had been them, I would have attacked me.

"I have worked in the Middle East for many years. This is a warzone and sometimes you just have to accept that these things happen."


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