21 December 2011

Leading journalist murdered by man in military uniform

Journalist Abdisalan Sheikh Hassan was shot dead on 18 December 2011 by a gunman in military uniform
Journalist Abdisalan Sheikh Hassan was shot dead on 18 December 2011 by a gunman in military uniform

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A leading journalist who had recently reported receiving death threats was shot and killed on 18 December by an armed man in military uniform, reports the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ), along with the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and other international IFEX members.

Abdisalan Sheikh Hassan was driving from the offices of HornCable TV in Mogadishu to a press conference when the uniformed gunman intercepted the vehicle and shot the journalist in the head, reports CPJ. He died after being taken to a local hospital. A colleague in the car was not injured.

"The Somali government must lead a thorough and transparent investigation and break a pattern of impunity for killers of journalists," said CPJ.

Hassan, who also contributed to Hamar Radio and the Voice of Democracy radio station, told colleagues that he had received recent death threats via cell phone. A soldier also threatened Hassan in person over the weekend, one of his colleagues told CPJ.

Last week, Hassan was the only journalist to cover a tense session of the Transitional Federal Parliament during which fistfights erupted between supporters and opponents of the speaker, Sharif Hassan Sheikh Adan, report the IFEX members. A day earlier, members of parliament overwhelmingly voted to oust Adan from power - a result he and his supporters refused to accept.

The footage of the proceedings was aired on HornCable TV, which attracted unwelcome interest from some political forces within the transitional government, his colleagues told NUSOJ.

The United Nations and African Union have expressed concern at the ongoing standoff in the chamber, reports CPJ.

According to NUSOJ, Hassan is the fourth journalist killed in Somalia in 2011, making it the region's most dangerous country for the press. ARTICLE 19 recently organised a three-day inaugural regional safety and protection training for journalists from six East Africa countries, including Somalia, in response to the increasing number of attacks and killing of media workers.

With at least 10 unsolved murders of journalists in the past decade, Somalia has the worst rating in Africa and the second worst worldwide in combating deadly attacks on the press, CPJ's Impunity Index shows.

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