Reporters Without Borders is extremely worried by Universal TV director Ibrahim Mohamed Ali’s abduction yesterday as he was returning from Afgoye, 30 km north of Mogadishu. Universal TV is a privately-owned Somali television station based in London.
“This kidnapping comes just a few days after a journalist was killed while covering the fighting between government forces and Islamist militias in the centre of Mogadishu and highlights the scale of the dangers to which media workers are exposed in Somalia,” Reporters Without Borders said. “We are very concerned about Ali and we hope he is freed without delay.”
The Djibouti-based independent Somali news agency (SOMINA) reported that that Ali, also known as “Jeckey,” was kidnapped by four masked gunmen who stopped his car as he was returning to Mogadishu from Afgoye yesterday afternoon. The gunmen said they had been looking for Ali and did not abduct the technician, Abdirisak Mohamud Jimale, who was accompanying him.
Canadian reporter Amanda Lindhout and Australian photographer Nigel Brennan were kidnapped in similar circumstances on 23 August 2008. Their Somali fixer and driver were also abducted but were freed on 15 January. Lindhout and Brennan are still being held hostage in Mogadishu.
Kidnappings of journalists and humanitarian aid workers have become quite common in Somalia, which is the deadliest country in Africa for the news media and is ranked 153rd out of 173 countries in the 2008 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.