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Media outlets come under fire, journalists wounded

(NUSOJ/IFEX) - The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) condemns the bombardment of Hamar Radio station that injured its director, program producer and another staffer in Mogadishu's Suq Ba'aad market, the second largest market in the capital city.

The bombing came after insurgents fired mortar shells at the headquarters of the Banadir region in Mogadishu's Hamarweyne district, where a meeting of the Somali Transitional Federal Parliament (TFP) was taking place. Mortar shells that were fired in retaliation hit the building where Hamar Radio is located, according to Abdirahman Yasin Ali, the director of the station, which is also known as Voice of Democracy (VOD).

Yasin Ali and Adan Hussein Da'ud, a program producer, were both wounded in the attack. Mrs. Amal Abukar Mohammed, 22, who was the wife of the director, was killed and a female cleaner named Rahma was wounded, according to Yasin Ali, who spoke to NUSOJ.

The mortar shells destroyed the studios and damaged the transmitters of the FM station. In an interview with NUSOJ, the head of Radio Hamar's team of reporters said that the station's journalists are in shock and, as such, cannot enter the station's offices.

"We were in the midst of preparing the programs for today when the mortar shells hit the station," Yasin Ali told NUSOJ. "All the journalists were very shocked. For God's sake, shrapnel hit my right leg below the knee and I was admitted to the Iqra voluntary hospital, where the doctors removed the shrapnel from my leg. Now I am at my home," he added.

"Adan Hussein Da'ud was injured in the left kidney and his condition is stable, but the serious case is our cleaner Rahmo, who was injured in the back and is in serious condition," the director noted.

On 20 December, mortar shells also hit the top floor of the building where the Shabelle Media Network is located, destroying the recently launched Shabelle Television station's satellite dish and antenna, according to the network's managers. The shelling happened around 11:00 a.m. and the Shabelle TV broadcast has been off the air since the attack. No one was killed or wounded in this attack.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attacks, but journalists, who withheld their names for security reasons, believe that African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) troops, Transitional Federal Government (TFG)) forces or insurgent groups are responsible.

"We strongly denounce the bombing of Radio Hamar and Shabelle Television. An attack on a news media house is an attack on freedom of the press and a grave violation of international law," said Omar Faruk Osman, NUSOJ secretary general.

Journalists and their media houses are among the victims of the daily bloodshed between the insurgents and the government troops with the backing of the AMISOM troops.

"These attacks fall foul of the Geneva Convention which requires the armed forces to take care of media practitioners as civilians. Targeting media workers is not going to prevent information from going out and we call upon the AMISOM, TFG and insurgent forces to ensure respect for the basic rights of freedom of expression," added Faruk Osman.

The rights of journalists in conflict zones are defined in Article 79 of the Additional Protocol to the Geneva Convention, which says that journalists must be treated as civilians and non-combatants.

"Such terror campaigns against media will result in further suppression of media rights and freedoms. We mainly remind the TFG and AMISOM of their absolute responsibility under the Geneva Convention to respect the safety of media professionals," Faruk Osman declared.

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