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Soldiers raid newspaper office, confiscate equipment

(NUSOJ/IFEX) - The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) has condemned the attack carried out by armed forces of Somalia's Transitional Federal Government (TFG) on the offices of "Waayaha Press", a Mogadishu-based privately-owned weekly newspaper.

On 19 February 2008, security forces who were conducting a security-related operation in Bakara market came into the offices of "Waayaha Press" and ordered the management and the journalists to move to one side before proceeding to search the offices, according to the management of the media house.

When leaving, the soldiers took five digital cameras and three mobile phones, the newspaper's editor-in-chief, Mohamud Hassan, told NUSOJ. Security forces also threatened to kill the journalists if they tried to come after the soldiers for their possessions.

"We denounce this attack and demand that government officials immediately return to the journalists the equipment confiscated by their soldiers," said Omar Faruk Osman, NUSOJ secretary general. "Journalists are not combatants, and government leaders must end brutalities of the security forces against media companies and their people."

The security forces did not explain the reason for the raid, but journalists believe they were attacked because government forces did not want them working in the middle of Bakara market to document what was happening.

"This attack holds back media freedom and handcuffs journalists from doing their work properly and professionally and as a result denies the public's right to information," Omar Faruk declared.

NUSOJ strongly protests the violence directed at journalists and media houses. "TFG must ensure safety and protection for journalists working in areas where they are conducting armed operations," Omar Faruk said.

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