Reporters Without Borders voiced its deep regret today at the death of BBC reporter Kate Peyton, who was fatally injured in a drive-by shooting yesterday as she was entering a hotel in Mogadishu to meet the speaker of Somalia’s transitional parliament, Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden.
"We are shocked and saddened by her death, and our thoughts go out to her family and friends," the press freedom organization said.
"If there were any need, this cowardly attack on a journalist shows that it is imperative that a democratic state, guaranteeing the freedom and safety of its citizens, be rebuilt as soon as possible in Somalia," Reporters Without Borders said.
"We have long been condemning the arbitrary violence reigning in the streets of Mogadishu," the organization pointed out. "As most of the clan chiefs have declared their allegiance to the new government, we call on the last diehards to not spoil this chance for peace being offered Somalia today. This is the essential condition for preventing a repetition of this kind of attack and catching its perpetrators."
Usually based in Johannesburg, Peyton, 39, was hit in the back by a pistol shot fired by masked men in a white Toyota Corolla taxi shortly after 3 p.m. as she was outside the Hotel Sahafi International in southern Mogadishu with several bodyguards around her. Peter Greste, another BBC journalist who was beside her, was not hit.
Peyton was rushed to the Medina Hospital, several kilometres away, where a doctor operated on her injury, according to the Somali Journalist Network (SOJON), a local press freedom group. The doctor said he had to remove her spleen, and that her liver was also slightly injured. She died from her injuries a few hours later before she could be evacuated to Nairobi.
Peyton’s bodyguards had given chase to the gunmen who had fired at her. Their car was found crashed, with a pistol inside, in Barmuda, a district in the centre Mogadishu. The gunmen had fled on foot. In the absence of any central authority, the neighbourhood where the shooting occurred is normally under the control of hotel security guards. Most foreigners visiting Mogadishu hire bodyguards.
Peyton was part of a group of foreign reporters accompanying a delegation of Somali parliamentarians who are supposed to pave the way for the transitional government’s arrival in Somalia on 21 February. Since his installation on 29 August 2004, the parliamentary speaker has been chairing sessions in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi because Somalia is so dangerous.