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Radio journalist wounded by stray bullet; freelancer arrested

(NUSOJ/IFEX) - The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) is concerned over the continuing violence directed toward journalists in Somalia following the wounding of a radio journalist in the town of Beletweyne, in the Hiran region, on 10 January 2010.

Osman Adan Areys, a stringer for the Mogadishu-based SIMBA Radio and the Puntland station Daljir Radio, was injured by a stray bullet that hit his left arm above the elbow around 12:00 p.m. local time in the Koshin neighborhood, where fighting was going on according to local journalists.

Areys was hit by a bullet while covering the fighting in Beletweyne between two rival Islamist militias seeking control of the town. "I was hit by a bullet in the upper part of my left hand and I am being treated at the hospital," Areys told NUSOJ. "I was covering the fighting that was going on here," he added.

Areys received safety training from NUSOJ and the International News Safety Institute (INSI) to help him operate in a hostile environment. He is a member of the committee of NUSOJ's central branch.

"We call on the warring sides to cease hostilities and respect the safety of journalists covering the conflict. While we hope for Osman Adan Areys' immediate recovery, we appeal to Somalia's warring sides in this period of a delicate political and security situation to be attentive to the need for journalists' access to areas of newsworthy events," NUSOJ secretary general Omar Faruk Osman said.

The situation remains terrifying for the media in Somalia, with constant news of journalists being wounded, arrested, beaten and targeted in other ways. Security forces of the transitional federal government arrested Mohamoud Mohamed Dahir, known as "Arab", a freelance journalist, after Friday prayers outside Mogadishu's solidarity mosque on 8 January and took him to a detention centre at Villa Somalia (the presidential palace). The mosque is close to the palace. The motive for the arrest is still unclear.

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