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Puntland bans media from interviewing rebels

(NUSOJ/IFEX) - On 15 August 2010, the semiautonomous authorities of Puntland banned news organisations and journalists in Puntland from interviewing rebels fighting the administration in mountain villages along the north-eastern coast, near the commercial town of Bossasso.

The Puntland Information Minister, Abdihakin Ahmed Guled, held a press conference on 15 August in Bossasso, the commercial city of Puntland, and ordered news organisations and journalists not to interview the rebels whose armed forces, led by Sheik Mohamed Said Atom, are fighting forces of the semiautonomous regional state.

Guled said the rebels fighting against his administration had links with international terrorists and threatened that any journalist or media house that fails to obey this order will face "severe punishment". The minister also warned that Puntland security forces will take "appropriate action" against any news media organisation that reports on the rebels.

National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) considers this an example of the steady encroachment on media freedom and independence, by diverting the media from the professional line of covering hard news stories such as fighting, community news, courts, crime and speeches as well as interviews of interesting newsmakers in a fair, responsible and unbiased manner.

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