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Puntland radio station hit by grenade attack

Radio Galkayo was damaged in a grenade attack. (Raxanreeb)

New York, October 19, 2011--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns Tuesday's grenade attack on a Puntland radio station and calls for authorities to take immediate steps to identify and prosecute the perpetrators. This was the third local radio station hit with a blast in three months, CPJ research showed.

On Tuesday evening, a grenade was hurled into the studios of Radio Galkayo, a community radio station covering local news and current affairs based in the city of Galkayo in the semi-autonomous region of Puntland. The blast destroyed the back wall and a window to the office of Managing Director Abdullahi Hersi, local reports said. No one was hurt in the attack, but the station's staff was working in fear, the reports said. In January 2010, Radio Galkayo was damaged by a grenade that destroyed one studio and a roof, local journalists said.

"This is the second grenade attack against Radio Galkayo since last year and represents a clear attempt to intimidate the station into silence," said CPJ East Africa Consultant Tom Rhodes. "Authorities must make genuine efforts to look into this string of attacks and bring the perpetrators to justice."

A total of four grenade attacks against Puntland-based radio stations have occurred since 2010, according to CPJ research. In October 2010, unknown assailants threw a grenade at the private broadcaster Horseed FM. In August, unidentified assailants threw a grenade at Radio Daljir. Earlier in May, an unexploded bomb was found in front of Radio Daljir's gate, the Somali journalists' union reported.

Working conditions for journalists in Puntland have been extremely dangerous recently, CPJ research shows. On September 14, unknown assailants shot Radio Galkayo journalist Horroyo Abdulkadir four times after she left the station. On September 22, unidentified gunmen shot Radio Codka Nabdda (Voice of Peace) reporter Hassan Mohamed Ali twice at a tea shop just outside the station, local journalists told CPJ. Both journalists are receiving treatment for severe injuries.

In a September press release, Puntland's Ministry of Security blamed a wave of assassinations and bombings gripping the region since 2006 on the hard-line Islamist militant group Al-Shabaab. More than 30 public figures, including community leaders, intellectuals, and officials, have been assassinated in the violence since 2008, according to local news reports.

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