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NUSOJ concerned over attacks on journalists

(NUSOJ/IFEX) - On 11 February 2011, the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) protested a decision by an Islamist movement to ban journalists working for Radio Shabelle, an independent radio station in Mogadishu, from carrying out their media work in areas under the movement's control.

The Ahlasunah Waljama Islamic movement issued the order after Radio Shabelle released "a news report that is contrary to the movement", according to a spokesperson for the movement, Sheik Abdirisak Mohamed Ash'ari. Radio Shabelle journalists are consequently not able to report from central regions.

"We call on Ahlasunah Waljama to immediately lift the ban on Radio Shabelle journalists since there are absolutely no grounds for their accusations," said NUSOJ Secretary General Omar Faruk Osman. "It is vital for journalists to be able to freely cover the daily news without fear of being arrested, banned, roughed up or expelled by the Islamic movement".

Ahlasunah Waljama further accused Radio Shabelle of "provoking war" in the country's central regions and attempting to divide the "Islamic movement".

On 13 February, Abdikarim Ahmed Bulhan, Radio Shabelle's reporter in Abudwaq district, Galgadud region, was briefly detained by forces loyal to Ahlasunah Waljama. The journalist was released following negotiations between his family and the commanders of the Islamist movement.

The NUSOJ Executive Committee, at its 37th meeting held on 13 February, expressed grave concerns over the undiminished violence against journalists.

The Committee strongly condemned forces of the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia who shot and wounded journalist Muhiyadin Mohamed Husni during an 11 February incident in Mogadishu. Husni, who works for the online station Radio Arlaadi, was shot in the hand.

The Committee stressed that violence against journalists is a deliberate crime against those who carry out their chosen profession freely and courageously. Once again, NUSOJ urges armed groups to end threats against media professionals.

Finally, in a separate development, NUSOJ condemned bombardments in the capital, which resulted in the wounding of two journalists.

On 14 February, Mustaf Mohamed Ali, a reporter with Radio Voice of Democracy (VOD), and Sadam Adan Mohamed, a photojournalist for Radio Shabelle, were reporting on a press conference held in Mogadishu by Ahlusunah Waljama. The two journalists were wounded after Al-Shabaab Islamists shelled the scene of the press conference.

"We deplore the attacks on journalists by all sides in the armed conflict, particularly Al-Shabaab who are accustomed to bombarding places where journalists are carrying out their daily work," said Osman.

Both journalists were admitted to hospital and are in stable condition. "The warring sides must guarantee the safety and security of journalists," added Osman.

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