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Gunmen kill Somali public radio worker

Sunday, August 18, 2013

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Two gunmen shot dead a technician employed at Somalia's state-run broadcaster Radio Mogadishu on Saturday, the sixth media professional killed in the country this year, officials and a colleague said.

"Two men armed with pistols shot Ahmed Sharif and escaped the scene. He was rushed to hospital but he died instantly," said colleague Mohamed Sacid.

Sharif was gunned down near his home in the capital Mogadishu just hours after Somalia publicly executed the only person to be convicted to date of killing a journalist in the country, ranked as one of the worst in the world for reporters.

Deputy Information Minister Abdishakur Ali Mire confirmed the death to reporters.

"We condemn the killing," he said. "He was an innocent man who did nothing wrong and we expect the law enforcement departments to bring those responsible to justice."

Watchdog group Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has called the security situation for media personnel in Somalia's cities "deplorable".

The country ranks 175th out of 179 countries in the group's 2013 Press Freedom Index.

Eighteen media professionals were killed in Somalia in 2012 -- the country's deadliest year on record, according to Reporters Without Borders -- and about 50 have been killed in the last six years.

Sharif's killing came on the same day that convicted murderer Adan Sheikh Abdi was executed by firing squad in a Mogadishu square for the September 2012 killing of well-known journalist Hassan Yusuf Absuge.

It was not immediately clear whether the attack on Sharif was linked to the execution.

Adan Sheikh Abdi was tried by a military tribunal as a "combatant" for belonging to Somalia's Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab insurgency. He was sentenced to death in March and his subsequent appeal was rejected.

Absuge, programming director at independent broadcaster Radio Maanta, was gunned down in Mogadishu as he left the radio station after working a night shift.

His killer is the first person to be put on trial for a journalist's murder in Somalia.

Saturday's shooting comes just over a month after unidentified gunmen killed Somali journalist Liban Abdulahi Farah, who worked for a newly launched satellite TV sation, as he was on his way home in the central town of Galkayo.

Somalia has been ravaged by conflict since 1991, but a new UN-backed government took power last year, raising hopes of an end to decades of war.

The attacks on journalists are often blamed on the Shebab Islamists, but some are also believed to be linked to a settling of scores within the multiple factions in power.

International press rights groups have repeatedly voiced their concern, with Reporters Without Borders warning Somalia "cannot continue to be abandoned... to the killers who are decimating civil society."


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