Two San Francisco TV news crews attacked during live broadcast

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Two San Francisco television news crews were attacked and robbed and a camera operator pistol-whipped while reporting on a homicide early on Thursday, in an incident that was partly captured on live TV, local media reported.

Crews from local Bay Area stations KNTV and KTVU had equipment stolen, and the camera operator suffered a cut to his ear, according to reports by the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper and KNTV, the local NBC affiliate.

The Chronicle reported that the attack began shortly after 6 a.m. and was caught live on KTVU as reporter Cara Liu was on the air.

The paper said that as Liu delivered her report on a suspected homicide at Pier 14 in San Francisco the assailants ran up and stole equipment belonging to KNTV, pistol whipping camera operator Alan Waples.

KNTV reported in a story on its website that one of its photographers suffered a cut to his ear during the altercation and that the suspects fled the scene in a black BMW possibly being driven by an accomplice.

A spokesman for KNTV said the station had no comment on the incident beyond the details published on its website. Representatives for KTVU could not be reached by Reuters on Thursday morning

A San Francisco Police Department spokesman was not immediately available for comment.

Television news crews in the Bay Area have been the subject of several such incidents in recent years, prompting some local stations to hire security guards to accompany crews out on assignment.

(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Susan Heavey)