Ameriques Asie Europe Moyen-Orient Internet Nations unies
Somalia24 August 2008

Three journalists, two of them foreigners, and their driver kidnapped by gunmen for unclear reasons

Reporters Without Borders is worried about the abduction of Canadian freelance journalist Amanda Lindhout, Australian freelance photographer Nigel Brennan and Somali photographer Abdifatah Mohammed Elmi. Gunmen kidnapped them and their driver Mahad on 23 August near Mogadishu for reasons that are not yet clear.

“Prudence is required in Somalia, where the situation is complex and journalists and humanitarian aid workers are often abducted by militias acting with very diverse motives,” Reporters Without Borders said. “But we hope that the broadest possible diplomatic effort and the help of Mogadishu clan chiefs will result in the safe release of the three journalists and their driver very soon.”

Lindhout and Brennan, who arrived in Somalia on 20 August, set off from their Mogadishu hotel with Elmi, who was acting as their interpreter, and with their driver on the morning of 23 August to visit a refugee camp at Afgoye, about 20 km west of the capital.

The Reporters Without Borders partner organisation in Somalia, the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ), said it had been told that the journalists were ambushed on their way back, at a point 13 km outside the city. The alarm was sounded by hotel staff when they noticed that the journalists had not returned.

It is not yet known if they were kidnapped for ransom or for political reasons. No group has so far claimed responsibility for the abduction or issued a ransom demand. NUSOJ said it had received information indicating that the abduction may have been premeditated and that an as yet unidentified militia could be holding them in Suqa Holaha, a district on the northeastern outskirts of Mogadishu.

A few hours before the kidnapping, Ahmed Jeylani of Radio Voice of Holy Kuran was arrested on the night of 22 August in Mogadishu by members of the federal transition government’s police force, who held him at a police station without any charges and refused to explain their action after releasing him.

In this country
3 June - Somalia
Alarm at TV station director’s abduction near Mogadishu
26 May - Somalia
Radio reporter shot by militia dies of injuries, fourth journalist to be killed this year
22 May - Somalia
Journalist killed in fighting between government forces and islamist militants
29 April - Somalia
Independent news agency launched in Djibouti aims to be reliable source of news about Somalia
27 April - Somalia
Islamist militia closes radio station, arrests three journalists

in the annual report
Somalia - Annual Report 2008
Somalia - Annual Report
Somalia - Annual report 206

Africa press releases
27 May - Gabon
Government imposes news blackout on President Bongo’s health
22 May - Madagascar
Radio Mada reporter freed after two weeks in detention
22 May - Sierra Leone
Newspaper publisher is victim of judicial extortion

africa archives

18 March 2009 - Democratic Republic of Congo
“Bukavu, murder city”: investigation report into murders of journalists in the capital of Sud-Kivu
21 May 2008 - Eritrea
Naizghi Kiflu, the dictatorship’s eminence grise
6 March 2008 - Kenya
"How far to go ?" Kenya’s media caught in the turmoil of a failed election

Sign the petitions
Sign the petition for the release of ten Eritrean journalists