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Somalia23 June 2006

Swedish freelance photographer gunned down on Mogadishu street

Reporters Without Borders said it was appalled by today’s murder of Swedish freelance photo-reporter Martin Adler, who was shot by a hooded gunman while covering a street demonstration in Mogadishu.

“Once again a journalist had been gunned down in cold blood and in broad daylight on a Mogadishu street,” the press freedom organisation said. “Our thoughts go out to Martin Adler’s family and friends, whose grief we share. This was an appalling murder, one that turns journalists into pawns in the hands of rival armed clans that use such crimes in their battle for power.”

Referring to four other foreign and Somali journalists killed in Mogadishu in the past 12 years, the organisation added: “Like the murders of Kate Peyton, Duniya Muhiyadin Nur, Ilaria Alpi and Miran Hrovatin, this killing should be exhaustively investigated, and all those responsible should be identified and punished.”

Adler, who worked for several media including the Swedish daily Aftonbladet, was covering a demonstration by several thousand people today in support of the peace accord reached yesterday between the Islamic courts and the Somali federal transition government. A group of demonstrators had just set fire to an Ethiopian flag when a shot fired by a hooded man hit Adler in the left side of his chest and entered his heart, killing him instantly.

Somali journalists told Reporters Without Borders they thought the killing was designed to send a message to the Islamic court militias that recently took control of Mogadishu after ousting the warlords that had carved up the city. Those behind the killing probably wanted to show that, contrary to the claims of the heads of the Islamic courts, security has not been re-established in Mogadishu, they said. It may also have been motivated by anti-western sentiment.

Visiting BBC correspondent Kate Peyton was fatally shot in the back by gunmen in a car on 9 February 2005 as she was entering a Mogadishu hotel to meet the speaker of the transitional parliament, Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden. Reporters Without Borders was told her killers belonged to a powerful Mogadishu-based clan that wanted to demonstrate that its control over security in the city and denounce foreign meddling in Somali affairs.

Duniya Muhiyadin Nur, a Somali journalist with the privately-owned radio station HornAfrik, was killed at a checkpoint by a militiaman on 5 June 2005. Ilaria Alpi, an Italian journalist working for the public TV station RAI 3, and Slovenian cameraman Miran Hrovatin were murdered in Mogadishu on 20 March 1994.

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