Bunce tells of attack on Cairo film crew

By Yvonne Tahana, Amelia Wade

Frank Bunce. Photo / Herald on Sunday
Frank Bunce. Photo / Herald on Sunday

Former All Black Frank Bunce, who has been caught up in unrest in Egypt, says angry protesters attacked his film crew - but apologies flowed soon afterwards.

At least 73 people have been killed and thousands injured in anti-government riots as protesters demand President Hosni Mubarak's resignation.

At least 282 New Zealanders are in Egypt.

Mr Bunce is in Cairo with a crew filming an episode of Intrepid Journeys and arrived in the city a day after the rioting started.

"It's a pretty volatile situation over here. There's a lot of screaming and shouting and as soon as they saw cameras they ran over and were screaming down the lens. But the worst thing is the amount of people that made it a little bit dicey and a bit scary," he told the Herald.

He said the mood on the street could change for the worse in a few seconds which made everyone nervous.

Mr Bunce said one of his cameramen was kicked and his director was attacked by a small child.

"There's a huge military presence on the street. There's 30, 40, 50 tanks and armoured cars and there's a whole pile of military out and there were helicopters flying around last night.

"But there's no problem with the military, they're just part of the people and for the people. It's the police they have a problem with."

He said he could understand the protests and sympathised with the Egyptian people.

"They're just angry. I haven't heard anyone say anything good about President Mubarak ...

"They've had enough of him. They're hungry and they're angry and they've got no jobs. It's just a hard life for them and I think it's just come to an edge."

The locals apologised to Mr Bunce and his film crew and he said a lot of people helped them out.

"When the guys were getting kicked and pushed a lot of the same group came back and protected our group and sort of ushered us away a little bit ... and were telling us to calm down. There were a lot of apologies afterward and patting on the head and hugging." Mr Bunce was on a flight back to New Zealand last night, but said he did not cut the trip short.

"It was really interesting to be here and was quite exciting ... when are you ever going to find yourself in the middle of a revolution? In terms of that it was a perfect ending [to the trip]."

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade is advising against all tourist and non-essential travel to Egypt. Apart from the 282 registered New Zealanders in Egypt others are likely to be travelling through and yet more could be staying there but not registered.

The New Zealand Embassy was damaged during the protests but a ministry spokesman said three officers and nine local staff were safe.

* If you have friends or family in Egypt try to make contact with them directly in the first instance. If there are serious concerns about safety contact 04 439 8000.

- NZ Herald

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