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Two radio stations taken over by militants

(NUSOJ/IFEX) - 19 September 2010 - On Sunday 19 September, Al-Shabaab and Hizbul Islam extremists forcibly looted two independent radio stations, HornAfrik and Global Broadcasting Corporation (GBC), in Mogadishu. The two radio stations are independent and are based in the capital.

Some of HornAfrik staff say armed militia from the Al-Shabaab broke into the premises of the radio station in Bakaro market of Mogadishu on Saturday evening and chased away journalists working in the station before destroying cassettes and CDs in the studios of the radio station and its sister broadcasting house, Capital Voice.

In a separate incident, heavily armed militia from the Hizbul Islam, another Islamist rebel group fighting against the Somali government and the African Union peace keepers in Mogadishu, on Saturday afternoon broke into the headquarters of GBC radio and television in Heliwa district in Mogadishu and took control of the station*.

The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) has condemned the two attacks by the Al-Shabaab and Hizbul Islam extremist groups. "Taking over the control of independent radio stations by force and putting the owners and the journalists in a state of panic, risk and fear is a criminal act that cannot be condoned by anybody. This is unacceptable and amounts to the highest degree of media freedom violation," said Omar Faruk Osman, NUSOJ secretary-general. "The killings of journalists and the take over of private outlets is a desperate and dangerous act by militants to silence private media."

On 23 August 2010, the Al-Shabaab took over another radio station, Radio Holy Quran (IQK), a privately-owned broadcasting station based in northern Mogadishu, after delivering a letter in which they explained their action to the management of the media house.

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    NUSOJ fears the Al-Shabaab takeover of Radio Holy Quran, a privately-owned station, will deprive citizens of independent information.

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