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NUSOJ LEADER ASSASSINATED

The vice-president of IFEX member the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) was gunned down last week, days after the group had appealed to the UN Security Council to protect journalists in the conflict-ridden country.

Nasteh Dahir Farah, a journalist who worked for the Associated Press and the BBC, was shot to death by unknown assailants in Kismayo, in southern Somalia on 7 June.

Witnesses said he was walking up to the gate of his house when two men shot him in the head and chest with high-powered assault rifles.

NUSOJ says it was a "targeted assassination" and that the 26-year-old had reported receiving death threats.

"There is no authority in Somalia that (provides) justice and no one is protecting journalists," the group's secretary-general, Omar Faruk Osman, said in a statement. Just three days before Dahir's murder, NUSOJ had called for the UN Security Council to recognise the crisis faced by Somalia's journalists, who are routinely accused of taking sides in the conflict that has spurred one of the worst humanitarian crises in Africa.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Dahir had himself expressed fear for his life. "I do not know if I can work in this hostile environment anymore. I am so scared," Dahir told Agence France-Presse a day before his murder.

The journalist is survived by his wife, Idil Farey, who is six months pregnant with the young couple's second child. They also have a 10-month-old son.

CPJ ranks Somalia as the world's second-deadliest country for journalists - eight journalists were killed in Somalia last year, nearly all targeted in the course of their duties. But no one has been punished for their murder, says NUSOJ. Many more journalists have fled the country.

Somalia's transitional government is facing an intensifying insurgency, despite recent peace talks. In Mogadishu, more than 20 people were killed and 80 wounded on Sunday in especially heavy fighting.

Visit these links:
- Tribute to Dahir on NUSOJ's newly launched website: http://www.nusoj.org/
- CPJ: http://tinyurl.com/3tx4np
- Reporters Without Borders (RSF): http://tinyurl.com/5nyqm7
- International Federation of Journalists: http://tinyurl.com/3ttajq
(10 June 2008)

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