Robert Fisk attacked in Pakistan


Robert Fisk, the London Independent’s Middle East correspondent, was attacked and beaten by a crowd near the Afghanistan border today. He 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.

"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 had now 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, who used to work for The Times, 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.

"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."