The deadliest year ever for journalists in Somalia has witnessed four more deaths this week, bringing the total number of media workers killed in 2012 to thirteen.
On Thursday evening, a suicide bombing at the Mogadishu restaurant ‘The Village’ claimed the lives of three journalists and injured at least five others in an attack in which a total of 18 people lost their lives.
Liban Ali Nur from Somali National TV, Abdirahman Yasin Ali from Radio Hamar (Voice of Democracy) and Abdisatar Daher Sabriya of Radio Mogadishu were killed when two suicide bombers entered the restaurant, a well-known meeting place for journalists, and detonated their explosives.
On Friday morning, Hassan Yusuf Absuge was gunned down after leaving work at Radio Mantaa, where he was programmes manager. Other journalists said that Absuge had just been working on a report dealing with the suicide bombings which took place the previous evening.
According to reports he was shot repeatedly by unidentified gunmen, and suffered three shots to the head.
A Mogadishu-based journalist told AFP: "This is a disaster, another journalist shot dead while we were burying three of our colleagues killed in the suicide attack yesterday. It is a campaign to cleanse the free press."
“Brutal assassination” of journalists
Secretary-general of the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) said in a statement: “We condemn this brutal assassination against the media practitioners in Mogadishu, an act meant to intimidate the journalists either stop the profession or force into exile.”
“We call on the Federal government of Somalia to give priority on the security of the journalists and open independent investigations into the murders of the journalists’ cases,” he added.
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) echoed the call for the authorities to act, decrying the ongoing targeting of journalists.
“An entire profession is in the process of being wiped out with nothing being done to protect it,” said the watchdog’s website.
Attack left 18 dead
Although reports have suggested that responsibility for the suicide bombing attack was claimed by Al-Shabaab, a spokesperson for the group said that the attack had been carried out by supporters, but had not been directly ordered.
Ali Mohamud Rage told AFP: “Action has been taken by sympathisers of the Shebab, who were angry with the situation in Somalia, especially the intervention by foreign troops."
"We did not directly order the attacks, but there are lots of angry people in Somalia who support our fight and want to change the situation," he added.
A policeman, on condition of anonymity, said that 18 people had now died from the blasts.
"The number of dead now stands at 18. Two people passed away overnight and another two today," he told AFP on Friday, adding that others remained in critical condition.
Doha Centre for Meda Freedom and a number of other international organisations, including the Committee to Protect Journalists, the Rory Peck Trust and Free Press Unlimited. are in the proces of sending assistance to some of the journalists to be injured in the attack.
Deadliest Year for Somali Journalists
The attacks came less than one week after the death of Zakariye Mohamed Mohamud Moallim, a freelance cameraman who was gunned down in the outskirts of Mogadishu.
Following the four deaths, the number of journalists to be killed in Somalia this year has reached 13, with members of the media being killed at the rate of more than one per month in 2012.
Doha Centre for Media Freedom has spoken out against the current culture of impunity in Somalia and called on the government to investigate the killings and bring those responsible to justice to provide assurances and protection to members of an industry which continues to suffer.
Somalia is the deadliest country for journalists in Africa, and the ongoing attacks and murders of journalists indicate a worrying trend which must be reversed immediately, the centre urged.
RSF rates Somalia as 164th out of 179 on the World Press Freedom Index, making it the deadliest country for journalists in Africa.
Source: DCMF, AFP, RSF