Radio Shabelle manager assassinated

New York, October 19, 2007—The acting manager of the independent Somali station Radio Shabelle was assassinated outside his home in Mogadishu today by unknown gunmen, according to station employees and local journalists.

Bashiir Noor Gedi was attempting to return to his home in the Hamar Jadid neighborhood after he and other Radio Shabelle employees had been holed up in the station for roughly a week because of a series of threats, according to journalists who spoke with his family. More than a dozen Radio Shabelle staffers were still inside the station’s headquarters tonight, fearful of leaving the premises, according to Radio Shabelle Chairman Abdimaalik Yusuf, who is in exile in London.

“We condemn the brutal killing of Bashiir Noor Gedi and extend our deepest condolences to his family and colleagues,” said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon. “The Somali transitional government must conduct a thorough and transparent investigation and ensure that all Radio Shabelle staff can return to their respective homes safely.”

Shabelle, considered one of the leading stations in Somalia, has been harrassed, threatened, and attacked by both government security forces and insurgents because of its critical reporting of the ongoing violence in Mogadishu. Shabelle was forced to close for 15 days this fall before resuming its broadcasts on October 3.

Shabelle halted its normal programming after the slaying, which occurred around 7 p.m., and started airing verses of from the Quran, the National Union of Somali Journalists reported. Management is debating whether it should continue broadcasting, Yusuf said. Gedi is the seventh Somali journalist killed this year. More than a dozen of his colleagues have fled in recent months in fear for their lives, according to CPJ research.