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Somali journalist murdered in Puntland on heels of campaign against impunity

Yet another Somali journalist has been killed. On 18 November 2014, Abdirisaq Ali Abdi – also known as “Silver” – was shot multiple times by unknown gunmen at a restaurant in Galkayo, a town in the semi-autonomous region of Puntland, reports the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ). The attackers fled the scene immediately and Abdi was rushed to Mudug General Hospital, where he died.

In a statement, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) urges the authorities to find and punish those responsible for Abdi's murder, and expresses condolences to the journalist's family and colleagues.

At the time of his death, 25-year-old Abdi was working as a freelancer for Puntland-based Radio Daljir and Hargeisa-based HornCable TV. He had also previously worked for Radio Galkayo. Local journalists told the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) that Abdi covered local politics in Puntland, but that they were not able to pinpoint a story that could have led to his murder. CPJ cites a report by Dalsan Radio, which notes that shortly before his death, Abdi told a friend over Facebook that he felt his life was in danger.

Since Abdi's death, one of his former colleagues, Ahmed Ali Kilwe, the Deputy Director of Radio Galkayo, has received phone threats saying that he “will be next,” according to Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

“We are deeply shocked by Abdi's murder and worried about the threats made against Ahmed Ali Kilwe,” stated Cléa Kahn-Sriber, the head of the Reporters Without Borders Africa desk. “Unfortunately working as a journalist in Somalia entails a constant risk of being killed, attacked threatened or thrown in prison.”

This is especially true in Galkayo, which, according to NUSOJ, is the second deadliest town for journalists in Somalia, after Mogadishu.

CPJ research shows that at least three other journalists have been killed in Galkayo since 2012— among them freelance journalist Ali Ahmed Abdi, Radio Daljir producer and editor Farhan Jeemis Abdulle and Kalsan TV correspondent Liban Abdullahi Farah. Their murders have not been solved.

"Galkayo is one of the most dangerous places in Somalia for journalists, and Radio Daljir and its staff remain vulnerable so long as the cycle of impunity is allowed to perpetuate," CPJ East Africa Representative Tom Rhodes said in a statement.

Unfortunately, violence against journalists continues to worsen in other parts of Somalia, as well. RSF reports that Nure Mohammed Ali, a freelance journalist working for Radio Kulmyie was injured by a car bomb on 9 November, in Mogadishu. On 12 October, Somali Channel Television's Mogadishu bureau chief Abirizak Jama Elmi, narrowly escaped a murder attempt. In June, freelance journalist Yusuf Keynan was killed in Mogadishu, by a bomb placed under his car.

The ongoing violence against journalists in Somalia has not deterred journalists from continuing to do their jobs, however. In a statement, NUSOJ quotes Ahmed Mohamed Ali, Director of Radio Voice of Peace in Galkayo, as saying, “such incidents cannot stop us from performing our duties with honesty and dedication. Rather we want to tell those elements behind the murder of Abdirisaq Ali Abdi and other journalists that such murders cannot pave hurdles in our way”.

The murder of Abdirisaq Ali Abdi comes on the heels on the UN International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists, and during IFEX's End Impunity campaign.

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