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Somali journalist killed in Puntland

Somali journalist Ali Ahmed Abdi was shot and killed in Puntland on Sunday. (Radio Daljir)

New York, March 5, 2012--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the murder of a former Somali journalist who was shot on Sunday in the semi-autonomous region of Puntland. The victim, Ali Ahmed Abdi, had recently resigned as a manager for a news outlet that has come under attack by Al-Shabaab insurgents.

Three gunmen shot Abdi, 24, repeatedly in the head and chest at around 9 p.m. near Hotel Guure in the north central town of Galkayo, according to news reports.

Abdi worked as the programming head for Radio Galkayo for three years but had resigned about a month ago to pursue higher education, local journalists told CPJ. He also used to write a column for the pro-government news website Puntlandi, Ahmed Garane, a local journalist and Abdi's friend, told CPJ. Local journalists said Abdi was still contributing to a community radio station in Canada.

Local journalists also told CPJ that they suspected Abdi was targeted by members of the Al-Shabaab insurgency because of his affiliation with Radio Galkayo and Puntlandi. "He contacted me a week before and told me he feared for his life without giving specifics," Garane told CPJ. Radio Galkayo, one of the few outspoken critics of Al-Shabaab, has been targeted with recent attacks. In October, unknown assailants hurled a grenade at the station, destroying part of their offices, CPJ research shows. One month earlier, gunmen shot Radio Galkayo reporter Horriyo Abdelkadir four times as the 20-year-old reporter left the station. She survived the attack.

Police were investigating, but the motive behind the killing was unknown, Puntland Police Commander Mohamed Said Jaganaf told journalists.

"We offer our deep condolences to the family and colleagues of Ali Ahmed Abdi," said CPJ East Africa Consultant Tom Rhodes. "Authorities must do their utmost to track down the perpetrators of this crime."

Hundreds attended Abdi's funeral today, according to news reports. His murder occurred less than a week after gunmen shot and killed Somaliweyn Radio Director Abukar Hassan near his home in the capital, Mogadishu. Somalia is the most dangerous country in Africa to work as a journalist, CPJ research shows.

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