MOGADISHU, Somalia — A Somali journalist died in the hospital on Saturday after being attacked by gunmen on Tuesday, his colleague told the Associated Press Sunday, bringing the number of reporters killed in Somalia this year to seven.
Mohamed Mohamud, nicknamed "Tima'ade," was shot more than five times, by unidentified gunmen on his way to work, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). He worked for the privately owned Universal TV.
“We must bring to justice those responsible for the attempted assassination of Tima'ade,” Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mahmoud said in a statement before Mohamud died, according to CPJ. The president urged Somali reporters “to keep up their courageous activity to show these thugs and would-be killers that they cannot silence journalists who are doing a magnificent job in Somalia.”
"The government always said it would arrest the murderers but has done nothing to curb assassinations. This time we will not be quiet. It has to prove it is concerned," Abdullahi Hirsi Kulmiye, East Africa bureau chief for Universal TV told Reuters.
Somalia is a fragmented state where the federal government has limited control beyond the boundaries of Mogadishu. Islamist al-Shabaab militants, who control swathes of countryside, still carry out bombings and shootings in the capital.
Journalists have been among the victims since Somalia descended into war in the early 1990s, with last year being the deadliest on record for journalists in the country, with 18 killed, according to The National Union of Somali Journalists.
In a separate incident, Somali security agents stormed and shut down two radio stations, beat and detained reporters, and impounded their equipment on Saturday, the union said.
NUSOJ said the raid was connected to stories Radio Shabelle and SkyFM, both part of the Shabelle Media Network, had aired touching on accusations of corruption within government.
Police said they were carrying out an eviction order after the network failed to vacate the government-owned building. Both stations were housed in the same building, which also served as a residence for the journalists.
"They did not follow the order to abandon the government building. The government had told them to leave the building in which the radio operated because it was not theirs," Colonel Abdikadir Mohamed, a senior police officer told Reuters.
"Radio Shabelle was on air during the attack and the public could hear the beatings and noise inside the studio until the police violently disabled computer servers and radio transmission equipment before shutting down the generators, effectively halting broadcasting indefinitely," NUSOJ said.
The union said police arrested 36 journalists and detained them for several hours, adding police sources had told it that officers were working on bringing criminal charges against eight reporters and the chairman of Shabelle Media Network.
Mogadishu's security has been improving in recent months but many parts of the city remain no-go areas for aid workers and journalists. All media companies and radio stations are congested around the well-secured K4 and airport areas.
"The raiding of Radio Shabelle and SkyFM and the arbitrary switch-off of two radio stations clearly indicates an orchestrated invasion on free media and drastically injures the rights to freedom of expression, media and access to information," the union said.