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Somalia22 April 2007

NUSOJ and Reporters Without Borders denounce the current wave of violence against the media in Mogadishu

Reporters Without Borders and its partner organisation in Somalia, National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ), are today outraged by the recent violence in Mogadishu and arbitrary shelling and shooting of civilians, including journalists and news media personnel.

On Thursday, 19 April, four shells hit the television studio and the newsroom of Global Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) in Mogadishu. Nobody was wounded in the shelling, but the broadcaster went off air.

On Saturday, 21 April, the premises of HornAfrik Radio were hit by seven shells, wounding two of its news media personnel. The station was temporarily shut down, due to the fighting going on in its neighbourhood.

Reporter Yahye Ali Farah was slightly injured and was admitted to Dayniile hospital, according to HornAfrik journalists, but cameraman Abdi Dhaqane who also works with the Nairobi bureau of the London-based international news agency, Reuters, was seriously wounded. Abdi lost some on the fingers of his right hand and tissues from his right leg, according to fellow journalists and sources at Reuters Nairobi bureau.

Reuters Nairobi Bureau also told the NUSOJ that they evacuated Abdi Dhaqane to Nairobi today to provide him with proper medical care.

Heavy artillery fire also hit the headquarters of the Ayaamaha daily newspaper on Saturday, killing a passer-by.

Xog-Ogaal newspaper, one of the leading daily newspapers in Mogadishu and number of Mogadishu newspapers stopped publishing because of the increased fighting in the Somali capital.

Shabelle Media Network also reported its inability to provide to the public the variety of the news reports that it used to furnish as journalists fled from Mogadishu with their families.

“The recent warfare is a perfect example of the increasing risks faced by journalists and media outlets in Mogadishu”, said Reporters Without Borders and National Union of Somali Journalists. “We call renewed attention to the fact that attacks against Somali journalists and media institutions are illegal under international humanitarian law, which protects civilian persons and objects”. “The media can never be counted a legitimate target”, said the two press freedom watchdogs.

Reporters Without Borders and National Union of Somali Journalists stated: “We firmly call for an independent enquiry into these renewed attacks on the press from the Transitional Federal Government, the Ethiopian forces and all other parts in the conflict. We ask the international community to help to determine what happened”.

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