New York, October 25, 2006—Security agents for Somalia’s transitional federal government arrested three radio journalists on Tuesday near the southern city of Baidoa, where the government is based.
Transitional government security services were still holding Fahad Mohammed Abukar of Baidoa-based Warsan Radio, Mohammed Adawe Adam of Mogadishu-based Radio Shabelle, and Muktar Mohammed Atosh of Mogadishu-based HornAfrik Radio late today, according to local journalists. They were first questioned at the local Criminal Investigation Department and were transferred to Baidoa prison late Tuesday, according to the National Union of Somali Journalists.
Local sources told the Committee to Protect Journalists that the reporters were arrested as they were returning to Baidoa from Burhakaba, where they were covering fighting between forces of the transitional government and the Islamic Courts Union (ICU), which controls a large swath of southern Somalia. The Mogadishu-based ICU took over Burhakaba, about 50 kilometers (30 miles) east of Baidoa, on Monday after transitional government forces briefly occupied the city over the weekend.
Police chief Aaden Biid said authorities arrested the journalists because they filmed Ethiopian troops and government forces outside Baidoa, The Associated Press reported. CPJ could not independently confirm those details.
“We’re very troubled by the arrests of these journalists and call on transitional government authorities to explain their actions,” said Joel Simon, CPJ’s executive director.
The transitional government, formed in 2004 following peace talks in Kenya, is backed by several neighboring countries, including Ethiopia, but has been unable to assert its authority beyond Baidoa.