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Armed forces raid offices of three radio stations, seize equipment, beat reporter; rocket hits station's building

(NUSOJ/IFEX) - The following is a 2 March 2008 NUSOJ press release:

In Mogadishu Media Crackdown, Media Executive Arrested, Equipment Confiscated

The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) today condemns in the strongest possible terms the shocking attacks on Radio Shabelle and Radio Simba in Mogadishu by the Armed Forces of the Somalia Transitional Federal Government.

Today, 2 March 2008, the Armed forces forcefully entered the offices of Radio Simba and took away three computers, audio mixer, a computer laptop, two Audio tape recorders, two digital cameras and four studio microphones. During the attack, the forces had beaten reporter Abdiaziz Hussein Hassan, who was in the Simba news studio. Yesterday, 1 March 2008, a rocket hit the building of Radio Simba and destroyed the Radio's archive.

A few minutes after the attack on Simba radio, the armed forces broke down the doors of Shabelle Radio, which is near to offices of Simba Radio, and took two audio mixers and the main computer from the production studio. When leaving Shabelle Radio's offices, the forces ordered Director of Shabelle Muktar Mohamed Hirabe to go with them.

Security Forces also visited Horn Afrik Radio and ordered the station shut down, but did not take any equipment, according to Horn Afrik journalists.

According to the journalists and management of these Radio stations, the attacks were intended to intimidate journalists and the media, and particularly these radio stations. Shabelle Radio contacted Government officials, when their offices were broken in, but no official came or ordered an end to the attack, said Shabelle Management.

"We condemn these unacceptable attacks on the Radio Stations and call on the Transitional Government to ensure that those who carried out these attacks are identified and apprehended, together with whoever gave orders for this operation," said Omar Faruk Osman, NUSOJ Secretary General.

"The freedom of Muktar Mohamed Hirabe must be immediately returned and the Government must guarantee the return of the equipment of the Radio stations without damage," said Omar Faruk.

Government Forces are carrying out security operations in Bakara Market and the entire Howl-Wadaag District, which is situated in the centre of the city, after heavy fighting in the capital between insurgents and Somali and Ethiopian soldiers.

NUSOJ rejects any attempt to muzzle or control the media and restrict journalists during security operations. "We believe that journalists' ability to report freely is essential to the nonviolent resolution of conflicts, and that suppression of the media during periods of unrest or armed operations only increases fear and suspicion among the people," Omar Faruk declared.

NUSOJ reiterates its deepest concern about the escalating attacks on Media and worsening security and safety of Media professionals by the armed groups, despite blood-spattered violence against journalists and media assistants last year.

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