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Puntland forces briefly detain and beat journalists in Bossaso

(NUSOJ/IFEX) - Puntland security forces attacked journalists covering the aftermath of recent heavy rains in the town of Bossaso, the regional headquarters of Bari region in the semi-autonomous region of Puntland on the afternoon of 26 May 2010.

Members of military-police forces and the Puntland Intelligence Service (PIS) attacked six journalists who were reporting from a Kat (a stimulant leaf that many Somalis chew) market on 26 May. The mayor of Bossaso, Mohamoud Farah Beeldaaje, said that he would "move the Kat market out of the town" at a media conference at the municipality offices in Bossaso, after mud covered the market, following heavy rainfall. Journalists were at the market when they were attacked.

Journalists Ahmed Mose Ali (Universal TV correspondent), Abdalle Ahmed Moumin (Raxanreeb website reporter), Jama Ahmed Ali (Radio Voice of Peace reporter) and Ayuub Abdirahman Mohamed (Horseed Media reporter) were briefly detained by the Puntland military police known as Darawish at the Central Police Command in Bossaso, according to Ahmed Mose Ali.

"They did not beat us, but we were intimidated at gunpoint. They detaining us for at least two hours, although we were later released with the help of some Puntland officials who came to us," said Ahmed Mose Ali, a correspondent for Universal Television.

Puntland officials including Security Minister Gen. Yusuf Ahmed, Sea and Ports Minister Sa'id Mohamed Rageh and the mayor of Bossaso, Mohamoud Farah, who visited the journalists at the detention center expressed dismay for what happened and ordered the arrest of the soldiers behind the detention of the journalists, according to Ahmed Mose Ali.

Meanwhile Abdulkadir Harun Abdullahi, a cameraman for ETN Television and Osman Saalah Ismail, a correspondent for recently looted Somaliweyn radio based in Mogadishu, were briefly detained by the Puntland Security Services (PIS), who seriously beat them. The PIS accused the journalists of taking secret video footage, a claim which could not be independently verified.

"I am only worried about my colleague Abdulkadir Harun who was seriously tortured by the PIS," said Ahmed Mose Ali.

Infuriated by the cameras, the security agents asked the journalists to hand over the cameras and later ordered to follow to the PIS office in Bossaso for questioning. They were held for an hour and a half and they were later beaten.

Abdulkadir Harun suffered wounds to his face, kidneys and left leg and was rushed to Bosasso Hospital, where he was admitted for treatment, although he was later transferred to his home, where he is now recovering.

"First, they asked us to hand over the cameras," said Abdulkadir Harun Abdullahi, in a telephone interview.

"I and my colleague Osman were thrown back to the market. I was unable to walk and my face is swollen because of the beating, " said Abdulkadir, yelling with pain.

Journalists in Somalia face challenges and all sorts of violations from different forces vying for the control of the country and regional administrations.

The Insurgent group, Hisbul Islam, arrested three broadcast journalists who were working for Mogadishu-based radio stations, on 25 May around 2 p.m. in Afgoye, 30km south of the capital Mogadishu.

Militias loyal to Hisbul Islam detained Sheekh Adow Amiin, a correspondent for Simba Radio, Ahmed Yusuf Idaajaa, a correspondent for Radio Holy Quran (IQK) and Mohamed Hussein Osman, a correspondent for Radio Xurma, during their assigned daily journalistic tasks. The journalists were released on 26 May.

The Shabab Insurgent group attacked Radio Somaliweyn's premises in Mogadishu's Boondheere neighborhood on the morning of 21 May, around 9 a.m. and took all their equipment, amid heavy fighting that was underway in the neighborhood.

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