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At least eight journalists wounded in missile attack

When Somali government forces fired missiles at a press conference being held by militants on 29 June, at least eight journalists were injured, report the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ), the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), the International Press Institute (IPI) and Reporters Without Borders (RSF). Independent journalists covering clashes in Mogadishu are being increasingly harassed by the state, and media outlets continue to be targeted by Islamist militias.

The attack took place in northern Mogadishu at a police school originally set up to train the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) forces. The training site had just been captured the day before by Al-Shabaab militants. Journalists were indirectly targeted as the government wanted to stop the press conference so that the media would not report Al-Shabaab's propaganda, an injured journalist told CPJ.

NUSOJ condemned the attack, saying, "Warring sides have made it their habit to bombard or attack places with a congregation of journalists, ostensibly to eliminate their enemy's claims of political gains." Mustafa Haji Abdinur, an AFP news agency reporter, and Yusuf Jama Abdullahi, a freelance cameraman, were arrested by TFG police for taking pictures of a wounded colleague. They were forced to delete their photos and released without charge. Abdinur is a CPJ International Press Freedom Award winner.

But the TFG is also hunting down any journalist that challenges its policies. A Somali correspondent for "The New York Times" fled the country on 26 June following threats from state security forces for reporting on the government's use of child soldiers.
The Somali government, battling several Islamist insurgent groups in southern and central Somalia, is backed by the UN and is an ally of the US in its war against terrorism, notes IPI.

Both Hizbul Islam militants and their powerful rivals, Al Shabaab, have banned music or news that references the UN-backed TFG on radio stations. Hizbul Islam also warned the Somali media not to celebrate the country's 50th anniversary on 1 July. In defiance, Shabelle Radio has begun to play music again. It is the first private radio station to break the decree.

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