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NUSOJ condemns media house raid, journalists' detention

(NUSOJ/IFEX) - The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) is perturbed by the increasing wave of intolerance against journalism in Somalia following the arrests of journalists and a raid on a media house in the southern Somalia region.

A group of armed men loyal to the Al-Shabaab administration in Baidoa town, the Bay region headquarters, stormed the Warsan Radio compound on 31 October 2009 and arrested one of the Warsan reporters. Warsan Radio was closed indefinitely on 21 October by the Al-Shabaab administration.

Journalist Muhyadin Husni, a reporter with Warsan Radio, as well as regional correspondent for Shabelle Media Network (Radio Shabelle), is still in custody and the Shabaab administration has yet to comment on the reason for his arrest.

"A group of hooded, armed men came to the radio station on 31 October and arrested our reporter Muhyadin Husni," said Hilal Sheik Shuayb, the Director of Warsan Radio in Baidoa, who spoke to NUSOJ.

"The armed men are still within the radio compound and have confiscated the keys to the radio station from the security guards," Hilal added. "Our reporter is still in detention, we don't know the motive behind all this, since the radio station has not been on the air since it was closed officially by the administration," Hilal added.

In an unrelated development in Mogadishu, Somali war photographer Mohamed Dahir, who is an AFP photo stringer, and Mohamoud Muktar Koofi, a Universal TV cameraman, were kept for 48 hours in a detention centre at Villa Somalia (the presidential palace) by the government police after they were seen taking photographs of African Union tanks firing at Bakara market, following insurgents' attack on the bases of government soldiers and African Union peacekeepers along Maka Al-Mukarama road, the strategic road that connects Villa Somalia to the airport, on 28 October.

Before the journalists were detained, the policemen seized their cameras before erasing the films and photographs they had taken, according to the journalists.

"They detained us at the Maka Al-Mukarama road, where heavy fighting was going on between the insurgents and the government forces with support from the African Union peacekeepers," Mohamed Dahir told NUSOJ. "I took a couple of photographs of the African Union tanks firing at Bakara Market, then Somali police came to us and confiscated our cameras and detained us at a detention centre in Villa Somalia for 48 hours," Mohamed Dahir added.

"They (Somali police) did not torture us, but they interrogated us on Wednesday night at around 2:00 a.m., thinking we were Shabaab members. That was the most difficult situation we faced during our detention," he added. The journalists were later released after the intervention of Yusuf Mire Seeraar, a member of the Somali parliament who learned of the arrest on 30 October.

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