Reporters Without Borders voiced outrage at the murder today of the director of HornAfrik radio, Said Tahlil, just 16 months after the radio’s former director, Ali Imam Sharmake, was killed by a booby trap car bomb.
With 11 journalists killed there since 2007, Somalia is Africa’s deadliest countries for the profession.
Tahlil was shot dead in the capital’s market district of Bakara as he and other radio directors were on their way to a meeting called by representatives of the al-Shabab militia.
A presenter on HornAfrik announced that the radio was immediately halting broadcasts as a mark of respect to its murdered director.
The identity of the gunmen is not yet known, but the Islamist al-Shabab militia was strongly suspected of responsibility. It has carried out most murders of journalists, academics and militant feminists in the country for more than two years.
HornAfrik, one of the country’s leading privately-owned radio stations, had recently covered talks in Djibouti between Somalia’s different political factions that lead to the election of a “moderate” Islamist, Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, as president. One of the owners of the radio is information minister, Ahmed Abdisalam, a former member of the transitional federal government.
“Our thoughts are with the family of this courageous and respected journalist and with his colleagues on HornAfrik, yet again hit by the despicable murder of its director”, the worldwide press freedom organisation said.
“It is essential that the authorities, and in particular the recently elected president, Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, make a public commitment to do everything possible to fight the armed militia who terrorise the people and who have for several years attacked figures in civil society."
“It should also be clear to Somalis who might have sympathy for supporters of targeted assassinations of the elite that remain in the country, that their objective is to force them to live with obscurantism and violence. There must be an immediate end to this carnage”, it added.
Tahlil was the second journalist to be murdered in Somalia this year. Hassan Mayow Hassan, of Radio Shabelle, was killed on 1st January 2009, giving rise to fears of a particularly bloody new year for the profession.
“Somali journalists community have lost today a leading journalist who was killed by enemies of press freedom with the intention of instilling fear in the hearts of journalists”, said Omar Faruk Osman, secretary general of the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ), partner organisation in Somalia of Reporters Without Borders.