Journalist’s kills in Somalia must be stopped

Irina Bokova, the head of the United Nations agency tasked with defending press freedom, on Monday denounced the killing of five journalists in Somalia in the past week, and urged authorities in the Horn of Africa nation to ensure that those responsible for crimes against media professionals are punished for their actions. "I am horrified by the sudden upsurge of violence targeting the media in Somalia," Bokova, the Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), said in a news release issued Monday, adding that the killings were an outrage against the whole nation. "They are also an extreme violation of the right to freedom of expression and freedom of the press - both essential for the construction and functioning of healthy democracies, and especially important in a nation trying to rebuild after so many years of conflict," she noted.

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13 Kills this year

Opposing Journalist Killed in Somalia"I urge the Somali authorities to do everything in their power to bring the perpetrators of these outrageous crimes to justice," Bokova added. Notably, all the five Somali journalists were killed in three separate attacks occurring on 16, 20 and 21 September. According to the UNESCO press release, their deaths took the number of journalists killed in Somalia since the beginning of this year to 13.

Hassan Youssouf Absuge, a well-known radio journalist, was shot dead in Mogadishu on Friday morning as he was leaving the studios of Radio Mantaa, and independent station for which he was the program director. The attackers had shot Hassan, who had been working as a journalist since 1989, three times in the head near a high school in Yaqshid district, but fled the scene before police arrived. The identities of the attackers as well as their motive are still not clear.

Nevertheless, it is understood that Hassan had covered Thursday's suicide bomb attack on a Mogadishu cafe in which 14 people, including two policemen and three journalists from the state-run broadcasting services, were killed. Police had blamed that attack on the al-Shabaab Islamist rebels.

The three journalists killed in last Thursday's suicide bombing were identified as Liban Ali Nur, head of news at Somali National TV; Abdisatar Daher Sabriye, head of news at Radio Mogadishu; and Abdirahman Yasin Ali, director of Radio Hamar (Voice of Democracy).

Prior to last Thursday's deadly suicide bomb attack, Zakariye Mohamed Mohamud Moallim, an independent cameraman, was shot dead by unidentified gunmen in the Nasib Bundo neighborhood of Mogadishu on September 16. It is now estimated that a total of 26 journalists have been killed in Somalia since 2008.

Somalia had been undergoing a peace and national reconciliation process in recent months, with the country's transitional federal institutions implementing the "Roadmap for the End of Transition" devised last September.

The transition process culminated in the election of Hassan Sheikh Mohamud as President earlier this month, giving the country its first proper government since the fall of Dictator Mohamed Siad Barre's government in 1991. Nevertheless, the Horn of Africa nation still witnesses frequent bombings and militant attacks, mainly in the capital city of Mogadishu.

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