The International Federation of Journalist has demanded urgent international action to confront the targeting and killing of journalists in Somalia following a brutal double attack in which one media chief was shot dead and another killed only hours later in a car bombing while returning from the funeral of the first victim.
Ali Iman Sharmarke, Managing Director of HornAfrik Radio, died when his car was blown up as he and colleagues in a convoy of media mourners were returning from the burial of Mahad Ahmed Elmi, Director of Radio Capital Voice, who was shot dead earlier today in Mogadishu. These deaths are the latest in a series of attacks that has claimed six media lives in Somalia this year says the IFJ.
“These savage killings are an indicator of the perilous conditions facing journalists in Somalia, where political chaos and lawlessness threatens all independent journalism,” said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. “It’s time for the international community to focus again on the crisis in Somalia. So long as journalists are targeted no-one is safe.”
In the bomb attack, journalist Sahal Abdulle, who works with Reuters News Agency and was travelling with Ali Iman Sharmarke, was injured. It was an attack, say observers, that was clearly deliberate with the detonation of a bomb that struck only Ali's vehicle in the middle of the convoy.
Yesterday evening another journalist, Abdihakin Omar Jimale of Radio Mogadishu, was shot and injured in a separate incident.
Political, social and economic life in Somalia had been marred with intermittent civil war from the inception of the country in 1960 and attempts in recent years to unite the country’s warring clans and factions have failed. The IFJ says that 19 journalist have been killed since 2000 when the country’s National Transitional Government was created.
The IFJ is supporting the protests of its affiliate the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) which issued a strong protest over the killings.
"We strongly condemn this wave of killings which is an intentionally organized mission to silence journalistic voices in Somalia," said Omar Faruk Osman, Secretary General of the NUSOJ and a member of the IFJ Executive Board. "We demand prompt investigations from police and the authorities in the transitional government to find the attackers and bring them to justice.”
The deepening safety crisis prompted action by the International News Safety Institute, which last week organised a training session in country for Somali journalists which was supported by NUSOJ in co-operation with another journalists’ group the Somaliland Journalists' Association.
“In this divided country it is vital that the community of journalists is united against violence and intimidation,” said Aidan White.
For more information contact the IFJ at 32 2 235 2207
The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 114 countries worldwide