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Journalists die amid renewed violence

Nur Muse Hussein
Nur Muse Hussein

NUSOJ

A radio producer was gunned down last week in crossfire in Mogadishu, while another journalist died on 26 May from gunshot wounds suffered while covering fighting in central Somalia in April. They are the third and fourth journalists to be killed in Somalia this year, report the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ), the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

Abdirisak Warsameh Mohamed of the leading independent broadcaster Radio Shabelle was shot dead on 22 May as the Somali army launched a major offensive against Islamist insurgents near Bakara Market in Mogadishu.

Abdirisak was on his way to work when bullets hit him in the chest. His body lay on the road for nearly an hour as the militias shot at anyone that approached.

He is the third Radio Shabelle journalist to be killed in the line of duty since 2007; the station also lost Hassan Mayow Hassan and Bashiir Noor Gedi.

"This latest tragic death underlines the extent to which civilians are exposed to an extremely volatile and alarming situation. Even when not deliberately targeted, Somali journalists have no protection from the ferocity of the fighting in the country," said RSF.

In a separate incident, Nur Muse Hussein, a veteran correspondent for Radio IQK, died on 26 May as a result of gunshot wounds suffered while reporting on clashes between militia groups in the central town of Beledweyn on 20 April, reports NUSOJ.

In the past several weeks, journalists have faced heightened risk in covering fighting that has involved at various times Transitional Federal Government forces, allied militias and Islamist insurgents. The number of Somalis fleeing the latest escalation of fighting in and around Mogadishu has surpassed 67,000, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reports.

On 10 May, four journalists were injured by mortar shells while covering a press conference convened by a spokesman for the Islamist insurgency Al-Shabaab, according to NUSOJ. Four days later, a stray bullet struck reporter Nimco Hassan Ali of the independent broadcaster HornAfrik as she was interviewing civilians fleeing violence in Mogadishu, according to HornAfrik.

The IFEX members say that four Somali journalists have been killed in relation to their work so far this year. CPJ says that since 2007, 13 journalists have died in Somalia in connection with their work, half killed in crossfire and half targeted for murder.

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