Three gunmen today ambushed a vehicle carrying leaders of the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ), a Reporters Without Borders partner organisation, on the road from Baidoa to Mogadishu, killing their driver, Madey Garas. One of the journalists was slightly injured.
“Like our NUSOJ friends, we are shocked by this deadly act of banditry, which has cost the life of a media assistant,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The situation in Somalia is terrible for journalists and press freedom activists. They are exposed to the same generalised violence as the rest of the population as well as being subject to the dictates of those in power.”
The organisation added: “We offer our sincere condolences to the murdered driver’s family and we reaffirm our commitment to work with NUSOJ for the freedom and independence of Somalia’s journalists.”
NUSOJ secretary-general Omar Faruk Osman and Fahad Mohamad Abukar, the vice-president of its supreme council, were heading to Mogadishu from the inland city of Baidoa, the capital of the Bay Region, in a car driven by Garas, an experienced driver from the Bay Region. They were travelling with two armed bodyguards.
Shortly after 9:30 am, around 45 km from Baidoa, they saw a roadblock manned by three individuals with guns who were making signs for them to stop. When the two NUSOJ bodyguards pulled out their guns, the gunmen at the roadblock opened fire on the car, hitting Garas in the head and killing him instantly.
The bodyguards fired back and managed to put the gunmen to flight. During the exchange of shots, Abukar’s right hand was injured by flying splinters. He is being treated in the nearest locality, about 60 km from Baidoa.
Reached by telephone, Osman told Reporters Without Borders: “We are in a state of shock after this tragic and stupid incident. Our clothes are covered in our driver’s blood. We are really distressed by his death. But we will go to Mogadishu all the same.”