Radio director stabbed; 2nd journalist attacked in 4 days

New York, February 9, 2009–The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns Saturday’s brutal knife attack on Hassan Bulhan, director of a local radio station in the central town of Abudwaq. 

Bulhan was stabbed at least five times in the chest and abdomen during a clan reconciliation meeting, two local journalists told CPJ, in what was the second attack on a Somali journalist in just four days. Bulhan was in stable condition today in Galkayo Hospital, a local journalist and a relative told CPJ.

“Somali journalists continue to be targeted while covering both village and regional conflicts,” said CPJ’s Africa program coordinator, Tom Rhodes. “We urge the clan elders in Abudwaq to ensure the perpetrator of this crime is brought to justice and allow journalists to carry out their work unhindered.”

Local journalists told CPJ that they believed the assailant to be angry with Bulhan over comments the journalist made on Radio Abudwaq about a recent clan attack. The assailant, who was not identified, fled the area after the attack. The reconciliation meeting in Abudwaq involved the country’s two main rival clans: the Hawiye and Darod clans.

Somalia, caught in a civil conflict that escalated in December 2006, is one of the deadliest places in the world for the press. Since 2007, 11 Somali journalists have been slain.

On February 3, HornAfrik Director Said Tahlil was shot dead by unknown gunmen in the Bakara Market area of the capital, Mogadishu.

Belhan, 38, also did freelance work for radio stations across the country, the National Union of Somali Journalists reported.