Journalists killed in Syria and Somalia, two of the world’s deadliest countries for media workers
IPI condemns the murders and calls on all parties to conflict to show restraint
By: Naomi Hunt, Senior Press Freedom Adviser
VIENNA, Jan 21, 2013 – A Somali radio journalist and a two journalists covering the conflict in Syria were killed last week, reports said. Both Somalia and Syria were amongst the deadliest countries for journalists in the world last year.
IPI Deputy Director Anthony Mills said: “Hostile media environments in Syria and Somalia helped make 2012 the deadliest year for journalists since IPI began its records in 1997. Until journalists cease to be treated as targets, and until their killers are systematically brought to justice, this trend is likely to continue.”
In the Somali capital of Mogadishu, Radio Shabelle reporter Abdihared Osman Adan was shot dead by unknown gunmen on Friday morning while on his way to work, reports said. The victim had been hit three times in the neck and shoulder, AFP reported.
While the motive for his killing is as yet unknown, according to the National Union of Somali Journalists, IPI research shows that Adan is but the latest journalist from the Shabelle Media Network to be targeted in recent years. Somali President Hassan Sheik Mohamoud has vowed to create a task force that will investigate journalist murders in the fragile country where, according to the IPI Death Watch, 16 reporters were killed last year.
French war correspondent Yves Debay was shot and killed in the city of Aleppo on Thursday, Jan. 17, news reports said, citing reports from the Aleppo Media Centre which said the journalist was hit by a Syrian Army sniper. Debay was the founder of Assault, a military affairs magazine, and had previously covered and fought in a number of conflicts.
On Friday, freelance correspondent Mohamed Al-Massalma, who used the pseudonym Mohammed Al-Horani, was killed by a sniper in the town of Busra Al-Harir in the Deraa Governorate, Al Jazeera reported. Al-Massalma, 33, had reportedly been an activist in the uprising before joining the Qatar-based news network. Debay and Al-Massalma are the second and third journalists to be killed in Syria in 2013. Forty-two journalists have been killed since the start of the conflict, according to IPI research.
A number of foreign journalists have been missing in Syria since last year. The International Press Institute reiterated its call for the journalists to be released safely.
- Austin Tice, an American freelance reporter, has been missing since August 13, 2012. A video that showed him alive was released in October, but no news has been heard from him since then.
- Bashar Al Fahmi, a cameraman for the U.S-funded Arabic channel Al Hurra, was kidnapped along with reporter Cuüneyt Ünal on August 20, 2012. Ünal was released by the Syrian authorities in November, but Al Fahmi’s whereabouts are still unknown.
- Ukrainian journalist Ankhar Kochneva was captured by rebels in October 2012. The rebels said they would kill the pro-Assad expert if they did not receive a $50 million ransom by Dec. 13, a deadline that was later extended. On Jan. 17, 2013, international news reports said that militants were demanding a reduced ransom of $20 million.
- American war correspondent James Foley, 39, was abducted in Idlib province on Nov. 22, 2012. His whereabouts are unknown. The journalist’s family has set up a website to raise awareness about his plight and to appeal for information.