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Somalia7 May 2008

Murder attempt against Puntland’s last woman TV presenter

Reporters Without Borders said today it was disgusted by a murder attempt against Bisharo Mohammed Waeys, celebrated presenter on the privately-owned Eastern Television Network (ETN), on 4 May, the last woman working openly as a journalist in the semi-autonomous region of Puntland, north-eastern Somalia.

Bisharo Mohammed Waeys, who presents a popular talk show onto which she invites singers from the region, was driving to her home in Bossasso, when she came under fire from several armed men and only escaped by accelerating away fast, it was reported by the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ), partner organisation in Somalia of Reporters Without Borders. The next day she received two text messages threatening to kill her if she did not stop her entertainment programme on ENT.

Mohammed Waeys previously presented the TV news. Given her independent character and the fact that she presents programmes without wearing the veil, the group suspected of carrying out the murder attempt is the armed Islamist group “Shabaab”, which has been responsible for most murders of journalists since 2007 and was named a “press freedom predator” by Reporters Without Borders on World Press Freedom Day on 3 May 2008.

“A terrible tragedy has been narrowly avoided in this country, which was in 2007, the deadliest for journalists in Africa. Bisharo Mohammed Waeys’s forced descent into life under guard symbolises a serious step backwards for Somalia since the outbreak of war between the transitional government and Islamic insurgents,” the worldwide press freedom organisation said.

“The Puntland authorities must take into consideration the disgrace that this represents and protect this journalist in every possible way,” the organisation added.

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