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DIRECTOR OF HORNAFRIK GUNNED DOWN

The director of the prominent radio station HornAfrik has been assassinated, report the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) and Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

Said Tahlil Ahmed was shot four times in the head by three armed men in Bakara market on 4 February, while he and other radio station directors were waiting to attend a meeting called by the Islamist group Al-Shabaab.

"This is an outrageous and appalling assassination," said NUSOJ. "Said Tahlil Ahmed was assassinated because of his strong and professional commitment to independent journalism."

According to RSF and local groups, Ahmed may have been targeted by Islamist insurgents because of HornAfrik's extensive coverage of peace talks in Djibouti on 30 January, which led to a "moderate" Islamist, Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, being named President.

"It is essential that the authorities, and in particular the recently elected President, make a public commitment to do everything possible to fight the armed militia who terrorise the people and who have for several years attacked figures in civil society," said RSF.

HornAfrik announced that the radio was immediately halting broadcasts as a mark of respect to its murdered director.

Ahmed is the second journalist killed in Somalia since the start of the year. Hassan Mayow Hassan of Radio Shabelle was killed on 1 January. Sixteen months ago, HornAfrik's former director, Ali Imam Sharmarke, was killed when a remote-controlled device blew up his car in the capital of Mogadishu.

Visit these links:
- NUSOJ: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/100534/
- RSF: http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=30205
(4 February 2009)

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