Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) said the U.S. should cut off foreign aid to the Egyptian government if “thuggery” against protesters in the country continues.

Merkley was responding to reports that forces associated with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak have attacked peaceful protesters in Cairo.

"Let it be noted by all who would care to listen that citizens of the United States of America are not going stand by and support a government that is attacking peaceful demonstrators in a square in Cairo," Merkley said in a floor speech Thursday morning.

"So if we see a repeat of this violence, America must send a very strong message that there will be no further aid to the Mubarak government," Merkley said. 

Pictures from Cairo broadcast by CNN, Al Jazeera, and other networks Wednesday evening showed individuals thought to be in support of Mubarak attacking protesters with Molotov cocktails, stones and whips.

"This thuggery against people peacefully protesting is absolutely unacceptable," said Merkley. "Let me be very clear, what happened yesterday cannot happen again with thugs attacking peaceful demonstrators on behalf of the government, must not happen again."