Reporters Without Borders expressed anger and dismay at the murder today of Mukhtar Mohamed Hirabe, director of Radio Shabelle, who was shot dead in Bakara market in the capital, Mogadishu.
A journalist colleague accompanying him, Ahmed Omar Hashi, was also shot several times and is being treated in hospital where his condition is reported as stable.
The Radio Shabelle journalists were walking to work when they were targeted by three armed men, several witnesses said. Hirabe was hit four times in the head and died instantly while Omar Hashi was hit in the hand and the stomach.
Hirabe is the third Radio Shabelle journalist to suffer a fatal attack since the start of 2009; the fifth journalist killed this year and the second radio director to be killed in Bakara market - a district under the control of the Islamist al-Shabaab militia.
Director of Radio HornAfrik, Said Tahlil, was shot dead in the same market on 4 February 2009 and Hirabe survived a murder attempt on the same day.
Voicing its condolences to Hirabe’s family and colleagues and hoping for a quick recovery for Hashi, Reporters Without Borders challenged President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed over Somalia’s worsening security in the nearly six months since he took office. “Armed militia, whoever they may be, are continuing to terrorise the people and to attack journalists and members of civil society with total impunity,” the organisation said.
“The Somalia president must come to grips with the scale of this catastrophe and do his utmost to ensure the safety of journalists. We also call for an immediate investigation to identify and punish the criminals,” the organisation added.
Hirabe, who was 45, had headed Radio Shabelle since 2007 following the murder of his predecessor, Bashir Nur Gedi. Two other journalists on the radio, Hassan Mayow Hassan and Abdirisak Warsameh Mohamed, were also killed this year.
With a total of 14 journalists killed since 2007, Somalia is Africa’s deadliest country for the media.