Two more journalists have been killed in recent days in Somalia, bringing the death toll of media workers during 2012, the deadliest year ever for journalists in the country, to 15.
One of the victims was shot dead on Friday, while the second journalist was beheaded according to officials, who said that his body was then dumped in the street in Mogadishu. As of yet, noone has claimed responsibility for the killings.
Reporter and cameraman for the Yemeni News Agency, Ahmed Abdulahi Fanah, 32 was shot dead by gunmen at a checkpoint after he pulled out his camera to take a photograph, according to reports.
He was killed the day after the decapitated body of Abdirahman Mohamed Ali, a 26-year-old sports writer, was found by residents in Mogadishu, who said that his hands were tied behind his back and his body showed signs of torture.
“His decapitated body was dumped near a restaurant. We were shocked to see his severed head placed on his chest,” Ahmed Abdinur, a resident of the area said, adding “we don’t know who beheaded him, but our village has seen several such headless bodies before.”
The latest wave of violence has forced some journalists into leaving the country for their own safety.
Female journalist, Sahra Abdulahi Isse told reporters that she will be leaving Somalia: “I have decided to leave the country because the time we expected would bring peace and liberty has turned into the worst we have ever seen. The death threats have increased. ... I will be leaving for Uganda for my own safety.”
Journalists being targeted
The latest killings bring the number of murdered journalists in Somalia this year to 15, representing the highest number of murders if members of the media in the country’s history.
Earlier this month, two journalists were among 18 killed in a suicide bombing attack on a well-known meeting place for media workers. Doha Centre for Media Freedom is currently in the process of providing assistance to three other journalists who were injured in the attack.
Doha Centre for Media Freedom has previously issued a statement calling for the government in Somalia to do more to protect journalists and eradicate the culture of impunity which is contributing towards the creation of an atmosphere in which journalists are becoming legitimate targets for terrorist groups there.
The centre has reiterated these comments, condemning the ongoing brutality shown towards Somali journalists, and calling for more to be done to protect them.
“Doha Centre for Media Freedom strongly condemns the recent attacks against journalists in Somalia, and the tragic loss of life which has taken place among media workers in the country.
The centre repeats its calls for the government to do everything within its powers to bring those responsible to justice and ensure that they are not left free to attack others in the future.
The death toll of journalists in Somalia this year has been increasing on an almost monthly basis, and the culture of impunity which abounds in the country poses a significant and dangerous threat to journalism and media freedom.
President Hassan Sheikh Mahmud has the opportunity to make a stand for human rights and media freedom by ensuring that justice is done in these, and other unsolved cases in Somalia by launching comprehensive investigations. By setting a precedent and creating a deterrent for those who target the media, he will improve the conditions for journalists throughout the country.”
We condemn the apparently targeted murders of Abdirahman Mohamed Ali and Ahmed Abdulahi Fanas,” said IPI executive director, Bethel McKenzie, adding “the governmnt, with the support of the international community, must do everything in its power to reverse this situation and bring justice to these journalists.”
Deputy Africa director at Human Rights Watch, Leslie Lefkow noted: “The terrible killings of two more journalists within the space of 36 hours makes clear that tackling the culture of impunity surrounding such atrocities can no longer wait. The new president should make investigating the killings a priority, today.”
Sources: DCMF, AP, IPI