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Attacks as well on peaceful demonstrators, human rights activists, foreigners and diplomats were “unacceptable under any circumstances,” she said.

Mrs. Clinton pointed the finger at Mr. Mubarak’s government without explicitly blaming the 82-year-old president for the violence. Egypt’s government must hold accountable those responsible for the attacks and “must demonstrate its willingness to ensure journalists’ ability to report on these events to the people of Egypt and to the world,” she said.

Foreign photographers reported attacks by Mubarak supporters near Cairo’s Tahrir Square, the scene of vicious battles between Mubarak supporters and protesters demanding he step down after nearly 30 years in power.

The Egyptian government has accused media outlets of being sympathetic to protesters who want Mr. Mubarak to quit now rather than complete his term as he has pledged.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs offered a strong denunciation of reported “systematic targeting” of journalists. He said, “I think we need to be clear that the world is watching the actions that are taking place right now in Egypt.”

On Capitol Hill, the Senate approved a non-binding resolution late Thursday urging Mr. Mubarak to hand over power to a caretaker government and begin a peaceful transition to a democratic society.

The administration’s call for an immediate transition from three decades of authoritarian rule in Egypt has coincided with American hopes that reforms in Jordan and Yemen could stave off similar revolt.

All three countries have experienced instability since protesters in Tunisia chased their leader from power last month.

Separately Thursday, a senior intelligence official said Mr. Obama was warned of instability in Egypt “at the end of last year.”

CIA official Stephanie O’Sullivan would provide no further detail during an open Senate confirmation hearing to be the deputy director of national intelligence.

The chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat, told the Associated Press that the events “should not have come upon us with the surprise that they did.”

She said the Internet’s use in organizing demonstrations in Tunisia and Egypt should have provided “much more warning,” and that her committee would look into how intelligence agencies performed.

“Was someone looking at what was going on the Internet?” she said.

Associated Press writers Bradley Klapper and Kimberly Dozier contributed to this report.