Said Yusuf Ali, a reporter for privately-owned Kalsan TV, was stabbed four times when he stepped in between a man and a woman who appeared to be fighting. According to the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ), passers-by detained the man and handed him over to the police, who are now questioning him on suspicion of deliberately killing Ali. The woman fled the scene but the police are actively looking her because they believe she deliberately allowed herself to be used to attract Ali’s attention.
RSF has learned from people close to Ali and from local sources that he recently covered an Islamic school teacher’s murder by suspected members of the Islamist rebel group Al-Shabaab. He had also covered Al-Shabaab’s recent military defeats.
“The initial information suggests that this journalist was deliberately targeted and lured to his death,” said Arnaud Froger, the head of RSF’s Africa desk. “The Somali authorities must do everything possible to catch all those suspected of being behind his murder and to establish their precise motive.” Froger added: “Somali journalists have been dying amid indifference and with complete impunity for too long. Only serious investigations and firm measures to reinforce their protection will obtain results capable of producing a lasting improvement in press freedom in Somalia.”
RSF has for months been calling for the creation of a national mechanism for protecting and securing journalists, in which the first step would be a network of focal points within government ministries and agencies concerned with press freedom.
Ali is the second Somali journalist to be murdered this year. Abdulwali “Online” Ali Hassan, a reporter for Mogadishu-based Kulmiye Radio and for Universal TV, a Somali TV channel based in London, was gunned down in February, shortly after covering Somali army operations against Al-Shabaab.
A total of 51 journalists have been killed during the past ten years in Somalia. This is almost half the entire number of journalists – 103 – who have been killed in connection with their work during the same period in all of sub-Saharan Africa.
Somalia is ranked 163rd out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2020 World Press Freedom Index.