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RSF and local partner denounce current wave of violence against media in Mogadishu

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders and its partner organisation in Somalia, the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ), are outraged by the recent wave of violence in Mogadishu and the arbitrary shelling and shooting of civilians, including journalists and news media personnel.

On 19 April 2007 four shells hit the television studio and the newsroom of Global Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) in Mogadishu. Nobody was wounded in the shelling, but the station was forced off the air.

On 21 April, the premises of HornAfrik Radio were hit by seven shells, wounding two of its news media personnel. The station was temporarily shut down due to ongoing fighting in the neighbourhood. Reporter Yahye Ali Farah was slightly injured and was admitted to Dayniile hospital, according to HornAfrik journalists, but cameraman Abdi Dhaqane, who also works with the Nairobi bureau of the London-based international news agency Reuters, was seriously wounded. He lost some of the fingers of his right hand and tissue from his right leg, according to Reuters' sources, and had to be transferred to Nairobi for treatment.

The same day, heavy artillery fire also hit the headquarters of the independent daily "Ayaamaha", killing a passer-by.

A number of other Mogadishu newspapers, including "Xog-Ogaal", one of the capital's leading dailies, have had to cease publishing because of the increased fighting in the city.

Meanwhile, Shabelle Media Network has reported that it is unable to properly cover the situation in Mogadishu as so many of its journalists have fled the city with their families.

"The recent warfare is a perfect example of the increasing risks faced by journalists and media outlets in Mogadishu," said Reporters Without Borders and National Union of Somali Journalists.

"We stress, once again, that attacks against journalists and the media are illegal under international humanitarian law, which protects civilians and their property. The media can never be considered a legitimate target," said the two press freedom watchdogs.

"We call on the Transitional Federal Government, the Ethiopian forces and all other parties in the conflict, with the support of the international community, to conduct an independent enquiry into these attacks."

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