Somali government detains Mogadishu reporter covering security sweep

New York, September 14, 2007—Police have detained a journalist who was reporting on a security operation undertaken by Somalia’s Ethiopian-backed government in the capital, Mogadishu, according to the National Union of Somali Journalists and local news reports.
Mohamed Hussein Jimaale, a correspondent of the Puntland-based news Web site Puntlandpost, was among some 70 people still in custody today after Wednesday’s raid on the city’s main Bakara market, according to Abdirashid Abdullahi Haydar, the union’s labor secretary. Jimaale was covering government agents who were searching for weapons and suspected Islamist insurgents, according to the union and local journalist Yaasiin Mohamed Ali Faytin. The notoriously dangerous market has been rocked by explosions, grenade attacks, and gunfire in recent months.

“The Somali government and its Ethiopian allies must stop arresting journalists for doing their jobs,” CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon said. “We call on the authorities to release Mohamed Hussein Jimaale immediately and unconditionally.”

Rising violence in Mogadishu between Ethiopian-backed government troops and suspected Islamists has led to the deaths of thousands of people, including three local journalists, according to the United Nations and the journalists union. About 400,000 people have been displaced, including more than 30 journalists, those sources said.

Six Somali journalists have been killed in direct relation to their work this year, making it the second deadliest country worldwide for journalists in 2007, CPJ research shows. Only Iraq has been more dangerous.