IFJ Raises Serious Concerns Over Safety of Journalists in Somalia
GENEVA, Switzerland, March 7, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has raised serious concerns over the safety of journalists in the Puntland/Galmudug state of Somalia (North-East) following the discovery of the names of seven journalists, including a radio director, in an Al-Shabaab hit list.
According to IFJ affiliate, the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ), security forces from the autonomous region of Galmudug, in central Somalia, recently arrested an Al-shabaab fighter after he killed and wounded civilians in the town of Galkayo, the capital city of the north-central region of Mudug. The Al-Shabaab fighter was discovered to be carrying a list containing the names of Mudug region officials, journalists and business people he was supposed to assassinate.
“We are seriously concerned by this targeting of journalists. We call on authorities in Galkayo, Mudug, Galmudug and Puntland to guarantee the protection of journalists in the course of their work,” said Gabriel Baglo, IFJ Africa Director.
According to the list discovered by the security forces, top of Al-Shabaab's hit list was director of Radio Galkayo, Awil Mohamud Abdi, whom they planned to assassinate on 3 March. A picture of the director was also found on the Al-Shabaab fighter.
The NUSOJ has expressed its serious concerns and called on authorities in Puntland and Galmudug to guarantee the safety of journalists named on the hit list.
“Authorities in both southern and northern Galkayo must beef up the security and the protection of journalists in Galkayo. They can do that by guaranteeing the safety of all the journalists named in the list, protection for media houses in Galkayo and all other journalists in Mudug region,” said Omar Faruk Osman, NUSOJ Secretary General.
When confronted at police station, Galkayo Radio director Awil Mohamud Abdi was able to recognise the Al-Shabaab fighter to be following him in restaurants and public places. Abdi and the other six journalists left Galkayo to Garowe and Hargeisa for safety reasons.
It must be recalled that in August last year, armed men followed Awil Mohamud Abdi from Radio Galkayo when he arrived at home house and put on the light, seven bullets slammed into the bedroom window near where he had been standing. Awil threw himself to the ground. Holes in his bedroom wall and bullets on the floor were found. Abdi was unharmed.