Reporters Without Borders is deeply saddened to learn that Sheik Nur Mohamed Abkey, a radio journalist based in Mogadishu, yesterday became the first journalist to be murdered this year in Somalia. The organisation has been told that members of the Al-Shabaab militia recently threatened to resume killing journalists, exacerbating an already unbearable climate for the media.
“We condemn this cowardly and repugnant murder with the utmost energy,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Abkey’s death highlights the fact that press freedom violations in Somalia are not limited to arrests of journalists or various forms of media censorship. Victims of the war between the transitional government and the Islamist militias, journalists constantly risk their lives. All the journalists in Mogadishu now fear a new wave of killings after a respite of several months.”
The press freedom organisation added: “With 18 journalists killed in the past three years, nine of them in 2009 alone, Somalia is Africa’s deadliest country for the media and one of the dangerous places in the world.”
Omar Faruk Osman, the secretary-general of the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ), a Reporters Without Borders partner organisation, said: “Somali journalists are being murdered just for reporting their stories independently or because they work for a particular news media. The loss of this experienced journalist is heartbreaking for his family and colleagues, but it is also a blow to the entire Somali people.”
Abkey, who worked for Radio Mogadishu, a station owned by the transitional federal government, was shot by gunmen as he was returning home last night. The government has formally blamed Al-Shabaab for his murder.
Al-Shabaab and another of Somalia’s Islamist militias, Hizb-Al-Islam, were on the list of 40 “Predators of Press Freedom” which Reporters Without Borders released on 3 May, World Press Freedom Day.
More information on Sheik Nur Mohammed Abkey’s murder:
More information on censorship and threats to Somali radio stations: