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Radio reporter gunned down by member of pro-government militia

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders is outraged by the 1 January 2009 murder of Radio Shabelle reporter Hassan Mayow Hassan, who was gunned down by a member of a pro-government militia in Afgooye, 30 kilometres south of Mogadishu.

"On the first day of the year, Somalia and Radio Shabelle have to mourn yet another journalist's death," Reporters Without Borders said. "The international community needs to take a firmer line when reminding Somalia's political leaders that they must address their failure to guarantee the media's safety. The transitional authorities must identify and punish Hassan's murderer in order to send a signal to those who might be tempted to behave in the same criminal manner."

Hassan was with other journalists covering clashes between Islamist militants and armed groups that support the federal transitional government when, at about 10:50 a.m. (local time), he was accosted by a militiaman. After Hassan told him he was a journalist, the militiaman shot him twice in the head.

Hassan is the 10th journalist to be killed since the start of 2007 in Somalia, Africa's deadliest country for the news media.

When Nasteh Dahir Farah, a stringer for various foreign news media and vice-president of the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ), was shot dead in the south of the country in June 2008, NUSOJ secretary-general Omar Faruk Osman deplored the fact that "no one is protecting Somali journalists, who have become targets for all the armed groups."

Hassan's murder comes just a few days after journalists staged a demonstration in Mogadishu to demand an end to violence against media personnel. Aged 36, Hassan had worked for Mogadishu-based Radio Shabelle for six years. He is survived by his wife and five children.

Somalia ranked 153rd out of 173 countries in the 2008 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.

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