Farah Abdi Warsameh/AP
A woman flees Mogadishu on Sunday,
May 24, 2009, after Islamic insurgent
forces shelled the Somali capital.

Violence Against Journalists Continues in Somalia

May 26, 2009 07:30 PM
by Sarah Amandolare
A veteran Somali journalist has died from gunshot wounds, the fourth journalist to die in Somalia this year and the second this month.

Deadly Month for Somali Journalists

The shooting on April 20 was a targeted attack on Nur Muse Hussein and three others. The reporters had been covering fighting between an Islamic group called Hisbul Islam and militias of the Hiran Regional Administration in the Hiran region of Central Somalia, according to allAfrica. Muse Hussein was shot in his right leg, causing a fracture that, along with other wounds, led to his death. The National Union of Somali Journalists was reportedly "shocked" by the incident.

Also this month, on May 22, Somali journalist Abdirisak Warsameh Mohamed was shot and killed near Mogadishu's Bakara Market while walking near a police station, Radio Shabelle director Mukhtar Mohamed Hirabe told allAfrica.

Reaction: International Federation of Journalists speaks out

After Warsameh Mohamed's death, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) spoke out against a militant Islamic group in Somalia, the Islamist Al Shabaab militia, which has warned journalists not to report critically on the group's movement. A member of the Islamic group, Emir Sheik Muktar Abdirahman (Abu Subeyr), also suggested that journalists should "take part in the Jihad."

"It is against press freedom and ethical journalism to interfere in journalists' work," IFJ Africa Office's Gabriel Baglo is quoted as saying on the IFJ Web site.

Background: Strife in Mogadishu

Journalists face grave danger in Somalia, particularly in the capital city. But nearby locations are not immune from the violence, which has taken an especially deadly turn in the past few months. 

In February, Said Tahlil Ahmed became the 13th Somali journalist casualty since 2007 when he was shot in Mogadishu. The assailants also threatened to target Ahmed's colleagues. Ahmed worked for HornAfrik, a Mogadishu-based Somali-language TV and radio station, findingDulcinea reported.

Earlier in May, the town of Jowhar, located about 55 miles from the Somali capital of Mogadishu, was captured by the militant Islamic group Al-Shabab after battling against forces supporting the transitional government in Somalia. The group has also made "deadly advances" in Mogadishu, reported CNN.

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Related Topic: Foreign journalists not safe, either

Last August, a Canadian journalist and an Australian photographer were taken hostage in Somalia and held captive near Mogadishu. This week, interviews with both have surfaced in which they beg for their countries and families to get them released. The interviews are still being corroborated, however.

According to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, freelance photographer Nigel Brennan spoke with Agence France-Presse (AFP) but experts speculate that he could have given the interview "under duress," which would make the situation even more dire.

The Canadian Press reports that freelance journalist Amanda Lindhout gave a phone interview to AFP explaining her treacherous situation. Lindhout said she is "being kept ... in a dark, windowless room, completely alone," but told AFP she could not provide additional details, leading the news organization to believe that she might have been reading from "a prepared script."

Ambroise Pierre of Reporters Without Borders speculates that the interview could have been the captors' attempt "to strike a deal because they're having trouble staying hidden in the strife-ridden city," according to The Canadian Press.

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