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BBC journalist gunned down in Kismayo

(NUSOJ/IFEX) - NUSOJ condemns the shocking targeted assassination of its vice-president, Nasteh Dahir Farah, who was gunned down by two gunmen in Fanole, a neighbourhood in the southern part of Kismayo, on 7 June 2008 at around 7:00 p.m. (local time).

On his way home, Dahir Farah was attacked by armed men who riddled his chest and stomach with bullets. His assailants escaped while witnesses were attending to the injured journalist. Dahir Farah, who worked for the BBC Somali Service and was also a freelancer for Reuters News Agency, died at the hospital 10 minutes after being admitted (. . .). No one has identified the killers or claimed responsibility for the (. . .) killing. Before joining the BBC, he was the editor-in-chief of Jubba FM radio station in Kismayo.

He was elected NUSOJ Vice President in 2005 at the General Assembly of the union in Mogadishu. He was devoted to ensuring the safety and press freedom of union members while ensuring that journalists followed ethical rules of journalism (. . .). He was one of 25 journalists who were trained as press freedom protectors. He assisted various investigations of attacks on media freedom.

"We denounce this assassination in the strongest terms possible; our vice president had reported several threats to his life by unknown callers," said Omar Faruk Osman, NUSOJ Secretary General. "There is no authority in Somalia that brings criminals to justice and no one is protecting journalists."

Kismayo is the third largest city of Somalia. It is controlled by clan militias and armed groups loyal to the Union of Islamic Courts. Clan leaders in Kismayo have a history of pursuing individuals that commit murder by promptly identifying the killers and handing the criminals over to the victim's family. However, they do so only for personal or tribal killings, not politically-motivated killings. Local journalists doubt the elders will identify or pursue Dahir Farah's killers, given that he was targeted for his journalism.

Hundreds of well-wishers, journalists, intellectuals, clan elders, politicians, civil society members and religious leaders turned out to pay their last respects to the renowned journalist at the 8 June funeral. All of the speakers called for the killers to be punished. They spoke about (. . .) the late journalist's neutrality while covering the armed political conflict.

Three days prior to the murder, NUSOJ had appealed to the UN Security Council to protect Somali journalists, whose safety is frequently endangered. "We will not stop our work because of criminals who are accustomed to making our professional duties a battlefield. No one protects Somali journalists and they are the targets of every armed group."

On 28 January 2008, journalist Hassan Kafi Hared, 36, died after a remote-controlled mine exploded on a road in Siyad, a village in the northern part of Kismayo. Apart from the journalist, who was walking on the road when the mine was detonated, two doctors working for Medecins Sans Frontieres-Holland and their Somali driver died in the attack. Parts of the journalist's body were scattered to both sides of the road. No one has been arrested for this deadly attack.

For further information on the Kafi Hared case, see: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/90297

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