Williams: “Crowd Dispersant” Amid “Sporadic Gunfire”

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NBC anchor describes “rhythmic beat” of Cairo shootings.

And: Washington Post’s Cairo bureau chief among two dozen journalists arrested Thursday morning.

BRIAN WILLIAMS DESCRIBES THE SOUNDS OF GUNFIRE ON THE STREETS OF DOWNTOWN CAIRO

NEW YORK, NY– February 3, 2011– NBC News’ Brian Williams reported live from Cairo through the night on Wednesday night into Thursday morning, as tanks moved in to downtown Cairo and violence escalated in the streets. Williams was joined by NBC News Chief Foreign Correspondent Richard Engel, as the two reported on the situation from a high-rise building overlooking Tahrir Square.

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WILLIAMS: I’m using a flashlight to put just enough light on my face to do this yet not attract too much attention. We’re on a building overlooking the square. A lot of gunfire going on. That’s close. Very sharp. Some of it has been smaller caliber. Other, very very heavy 50 caliber, very recognizable. The kind you feel thumping in your chest.

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WILLIAMS: What’s remarkable is we’ve had automatic weapons fire, probably consistently for last 15 minutes. I’ve seen rounds chip away at the bottom of an overpass, live rounds. A tank has just moved into position, conceivably to fire over the heads of the crowd and they’re still at it. Two sides from 5,000 years of human history. The repository of much of the cradle of civilization, the museum of Egypt.

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WILLIAMS: (gunfire) That’s just live gunfire. Coming from right here, coming from right below our position.

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WILLIAMS: They’ve got to get this crowd out of here and they got to find a way to do it and absent a loud speaker, I haven’t heard any attempt to address the people– not that it would be heard over the cacophony (gunshot).

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WILLIAMS: There’s a rhythmic beat. They’re literally making shields out of steel plate. No rounds have struck the building we’re in, that I know of (more gunfire), And I don’t know if any of this is crossfire. Seems like crowd dispersant. Could be rubber bullets though I doubt it. Just don’t know. Probably best to stay up here and stay as far away as possible.

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WILLIAMS: This has been going all evening, sporadic gunfire. The idea of gunfire in downtown Cairo, the idea of fire, Molotov cocktails, gunfire this close to this beautiful museum, this beautiful square, is still a new concept to all of us here and we have no idea where this is going to end up. None of us would have predicted today. None of us would have predicted the day before and no one should be in the business of predicting what’s going to happen tomorrow.

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