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Somalia11 January 2008

Puntland radio journalist in critical condition after shooting attack

Reporters Without Borders firmly condemns an attempt to murder Abdikheyr Mohammed Jama, a presenter and technician with community Radio Galkayo, yesterday evening in Galkayo, in the semi-autonomous northern province of Puntland.

“If nothing is done by the Puntland authorities to identify and punish those responsible for this cowardly attack, every journalist in the region will be exposed to the threat of deadly violence,” the press freedom organisation said. “The government must stop the spiral of violence, announce who is committing these crimes and bring them to trial.”

Four gunmen opened fire on Jama, hitting him in the mouth, according to the Reporters Without Borders partner organisation in Somalia, the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ). He was taken to hospital where his condition is regarded as critical, NUSOJ said.

The attack comes amid growing tension between militias in Bossasso and Galkayo. Fighting broke out on 9 January between various armed groups affiliated to regional clans. NUSOJ secretary-general Omar Faruk Osman said the attempted killing could be “a way for a local clan-based militia to get at Puntland’s president by discrediting him.”

Eight journalists were killed last year in Somalia, making it Africa’s deadliest country for the press. French freelance cameraman Gwen Le Gouil was kidnapped by a local militia and held for eight days in December when he went to do a story on the smuggling of illegal migrants from Puntland’s northern coast over to Yemen and from there to the Gulf countries. Puntland’s coast is also used for embarking clandestine arms shipments.

Idle Moallim, a freelance reporter who often works for the Somaliweyn news website, was arrested by the Puntland police in Bossasso on 5 January for reporting on the migrant smuggling. He is still being held at Bossasso police headquarters.



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