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Media houses targeted with grenades, three journalists wounded

(NUSOJ/IFEX) - On 17 January 2010, the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) vehemently condemned recent violent attacks on media houses, in which three journalists were wounded, as reprehensible acts of cruel terrorization.

On the evening of 15 January, unidentified assailants threw hand grenades at the premises of Radio Voice of Mudug, Radio Hobio and Radio Galkayo, in Galkayo town, Mudug region, in central Somalia. Journalists Mohamed Isse Mohamud of Radio Voice of Mudug, Abdulkadir Mohamed Jimale of Horn Cable TV and Faysal Abdi Jama of Radio Hobio were wounded in the attacks. Both Mohamed Isse Mohamud and Abdulkadir Mohamed Jimale were wounded inside the premises of Radio Voice of Mudug. A security guard from the station was also wounded.

"The three journalists have slight injuries from the grenade explosions and are in good health now," said Liban Isse Omar, the director of Radio Voice of Mudug, who spoke to NUSOJ via telephone. The director told NUSOJ that the wounded journalists were admitted to hospital but were later released and taken to their homes. "The journalists are finding it difficult to go out for duties as they are in shock because of the attack," Liban Isse Omar added.

According to NUSOJ's information, the first two attacks targeting Radio Voice of Mudug and Radio Hobio occurred around 19:45 (local time). An assailant then lobbed a grenade at Radio Galkayo. All entry and exit routes from the media houses were sealed for four hours and a quick manhunt was launched.

"These attacks were brutal acts of terrorism. Such attacks against the media never happened in the country before and have served to increase a sense of insecurity. We are extremely worried," said Burhan Ahmed Dahir, NUSOJ coordinator in Puntland. "These acts of cruel terrorization can be understood as a thinly disguised effort to shut up critical and dissenting voices in the media," he added.

While welcoming the arrest of one of the assailants, NUSOJ called on the Puntland authorities to take urgent steps to conduct fair, speedy and transparent investigations in order to identify and prosecute the perpetrators. The union also asked the authorities to provide protection to the media houses since they are facing imminent threats as a result of carrying out their professional duties.

"Media houses and their journalists have every right to be protected to discharge their professional duties without fear of intimidation, obstruction, bombing, harassment or unacceptable interference. Safety and security of the media is endangered as a result of fulfilling their functions and they shall be sufficiently protected by the authorities," Burhan Ahmed Dahir said.

This terror campaign of media houses and journalists is the latest episode in a continuing wave of harassment, in a concerted effort to restrain freedom of the media. In another recent incident, on 10 January, journalist Osman Adan Areys of SIMBA Radio and Daljir Radio was wounded in Beledweyne town, Hiran region.

NUSOJ continues to constantly monitor the situation in Galkayo, tracking events as they unfold.

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