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Monday, 05 March 2012

Fourth Somali Journalist Killed in as Many Months

Radio Station Raided for Airing ‘Propaganda’ 

By: Nisha Thanki

African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) tanks patrol after fighting against Islamist insurgents al Shabaab in Suqa Holaha village of Horiwaa district, northern Mogadishu March 3, 2012. REUTERS/Feisal Omar.

VIENNA, Mar 5, 2012 - Somali journalist Ali Ahmed Abdi was shot dead by unidentified assailants on Sunday evening, according to AP.  He was immediately taken to hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The 24-year-old reporter was walking home in Gasoor village when he was approached by two men, who shot him three times in the head. Abdi was a journalist for Radio Galkayo and had also worked for the news website Puntlandi.com. The reasons behind his murder remain unclear; no group has claimed responsibility.

Ali Ahmed Abdi is the fourth journalist to be killed in Somalia in as many months. Last week IPI reported on the murder of Abukar Hassan Kadaf in Mogadishu. In January, the director of the Shabelle Radio Network was shot and killed, and in December 2011 Abdisalan Sheikh Hassan, a television journalist was shot dead by a man wearing a government military uniform.

The Secretary-General of the National Union of Somali Journalists, Mohamed Ibrahim, said: “The journalists, who are only serving to bring the news stories to the public attention, must not be intimidated in targeted killings, during the transition period which will end in August this year. These cold-blooded murders should be stopped and the killers should be punished … .“ He added: “Our thoughts go out to the family, friends and colleagues of Ali Ahmed Abdi.”

IPI Press Freedom Manager Anthony Mills said: “It is unacceptable that journalists continue to be slain in cold blood in Somalia, and that no one is brought to justice. Impunity is fuelling the murders.”

In another development, IPI is concerned at a raid by armed police on Radio Voice of Peace (Codka Nabadda Radio) on Saturday. Equipment, including two laptops, was seized from the Boosaaso-based radio station. The police have also arrested the director of the radio station, Awke Abdullahi Ali. According to NUSOJ, the radio station had earlier broadcast a programme about fighting in Galgala, featured an interview with the Puntland presidential spokesman, and quoted a spokesman for the Al-Shabab militant group from a website. NUSOJ said the police accused the radio of airing “propaganda news related to the Shabab”.

According to NUSOJ, the director of the radio station is still in detention without being charged, and the seized equipment has not been returned. Mohamed Ibrahim said: “The Puntland administration should return the equipment of Radio Codka Nabadda and allow the radio to resume operations without preconditions and we call for the release of its director. We also demand an independent investigation into the cases of the four journalists killed in the last four months.”

Last week IPI reported on a spate of arrests in Somaliland. Mohammed Abdirahmen Ismail was detained and tortured after being accused of writing a false story. Mohamend Abdi Boosh of Ramaas.com and Hasan Omar Hassan of Ogaal newspaper were detained and then later released after having published information sensitive to the Somaliland government. The editor-in-chief and chairman of the newspaper Caalami were arrested for publishing articles on alleged corruption in the government; the pair was later released on bail. Abdiqani Ismail Goox was also arrested last week for allegedly taking military photographs and publishing them on local news websites. According to NUSOJ, who spoke to Goox, he had taken the photographs a long time ago and they were recently published again on Somali news websites.