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Somalia22 May 2009

Journalist killed in fighting between government forces and islamist militants

Reporters Without Borders expressed dismay at the death today of journalist Abdirisak Warsameh Mohamed, of Radio Shabelle, who was shot as the Somali army launched a major offensive against Islamist “al-Shabab” insurgents in the heart of the capital Mogadishu.

“We offer our condolences to the journalist’s family as well as the staff of Radio Shabelle who have yet again lost one of their colleagues”, the worldwide press freedom organisation said.

“This latest tragic death underlines the extent to which civilians are exposed to an extremely volatile and alarming situation. Even when not deliberately targeted, Somali journalists have no protection from the ferocity of the fighting in the country”.

Warsameh Mohamed was shot several times in the chest close to Bakara market in the south of the capital, which is the fiefdom of al-Shabab. Head of Radio Shabelle, Mukhtar Mohamed Hirabe, said he was shot while on his way to the station, as he crossed a road near Wardhigley police station. His body was left lying where it fell for almost an hour because   nobody dared approach due to the intensity of the fighting.

Somali government forces have launched an offensive against three districts of the capital held by al-Shahab fighters - Tarbunka, Bakara and Howlwadag. There is nothing so far to suggest that the journalist was targeted because of his work. He may well have simply been hit by stray bullets as has happened to many civilians during these clashes.

Abdirisak Warameh Mohamed is the third journalist to be killed in Somalia since the beginning of 2009. The other fatalities were Hassan Mayow Hassan, also of Radio Shabelle, and Said Tahlil, director of Radio HornAfrik. The killing of 11 journalists since 2007 has made it Africa’s deadliest country for the media.

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