In Puntland, radio contributor shot during army raid

New York, May 9, 2007—The Committee to Protect Journalists mourns the death on Saturday of Mohammed Abdullahi Khalif, a contributor to the private radio station Voice of Peace in Somalia’s northeastern, semi-autonomous region of Puntland. Khalif was killed by crossfire while covering an army raid on an illegal gun market in the city of Galkayo.

Khalif died from a bullet to the chest as soldiers were raiding the dealership to recover an assault rifle allegedly stolen from the army, according to the National Union of Somali Journalists and local journalists. One other person died and several others were wounded in the raid.

“This tragic event reminds us that reporting the news anywhere in Somalia is dangerous,” CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon said. “We mourn the loss of Mohammed Abdullahi Khalif and extend our condolences to his family and colleagues.”

Khalif, believed to about 25, had contributed news reports to the station on a voluntary basis since last year, Director Mohamed Ali Ahmad told CPJ today. He had worked as a station technician for several months before that, Ahmad said.

Khalif is the 15th journalist killed on duty in Somalia since 1992. The country, the world’s 12th most dangerous for the press, has had no effective central government since the fall of dictator Siad Barre in 1991.

A number of other journalists have been killed in circumstances similar to the Khalif case. Stray bullets claimed the lives of reporters Ahmed Kafi Awale of Radio of the Somali People in January 2000, Abdullahi Madkeer of DMC Radio in January 2003, and Duniya Muhyadin Nur of Capital Voice in June 2005.

Puntland, home of Somali transitional government President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, has attracted hundreds of Somalis fleeing the violence in the capital, Mogadishu. In recent months, authorities jailed a radio correspondent for nearly two weeks and, in March, issued a decree prohibiting activities of media groups without prior consent of the government.