Reporters Without Borders strongly condemns the raid which members of the Islamist armed group Al-Shabaab carried out yesterday on Radio Jubba in Baidoa (250 km northwest of Mogadishu), closing the station and arresting three of its journalists. Al-Shabaab is in control of Baidoa.
“The climate of terror which Somali Islamist insurgents are imposing on the press has gone on for too long,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The militias are responsible for many of the murders of journalists in Somali in the past two years, and have targeted leading civil society members on the grounds that they are serving the interests of the ‘Crusaders’. If nothing is done to stop them, Al-Shabaab will end up convincing journalists to give up working altogether.”
Heavily-armed Al-Shabaab militiamen burst into Radio Jubba’s studios yesterday evening and ordered the journalists to stop broadcasting. Station manager Muktar Mohamed Atosh, editor Mohamed Adawe Adan and reporter Mohamed Nur Mohamed were arrested. The raid was ordered by the head of security in the region, Sheik Hassan Derow, who accuses the station of “not obeying the administration’s orders.”
Muhidin Hassan Mohamed, the Baidoa correspondent of Mogadishu-based Radio Shabelle, was arrested by Al-Shabaab members on the evening of 16 April, a few hours after the station broadcast a report in which he said residents were subject to extortion by insurgents at checkpoints set up around Baidoa. He was released four days later, after admitting to disinformation.
With 11 journalists killed in the past two years, Somalia is Africa’s deadliest country for the news media. Al-Shabaab is on the Reporters Without Borders list of “Predators of Press Freedom.”