Al-Shabaab abducts reporter

New York, February 22, 2010—Militants from the Al-Qaeda-allied insurgent group Al-Shabaab abducted a reporter in Somalia on Sunday, according to local journalists and news reports.

Ali Yussuf Adan, a reporter with the Somaliweyn Media Center, a private broadcaster, in the town of Wanlaweyn, northwest of the capital Mogadishu, is being held in a prison in the Al-Shabaab-held coastal city of Merca, according to the National Union of Somali Journalists.

The motive behind the abduction is still unknown, Somaliweyn Director Abukar Hassan Kabar told CPJ. The union told CPJ that Adan was picked up on Sunday morning, shortly after reporting Al-Shabaab’s alleged killing of a man accused of being late to a Saturday prayer mandatory under their version of Sharia law.

“The abduction and detention of Ali Yussuf Adan is not justified under any legal system,” said CPJ Deputy Director Robert Mahoney. “We call on Al-Shabaab to release him immediately.”

Al-Shabaab militants are battling rival Islamist faction Hizbul Islam, and the U.S. and U.N.-backed Somali Transitional Federal Government for control of the country. Al-Shabaab has forced at least five broadcasters off the air in recent months and imposed draconian restrictions—such as banning music and not allowing news to air without prior authorization—on other media outlets across large swaths of southern Somalia, according to the union.

Somalia is one of the world’s deadliest countries for the press, according to CPJ research. Nine journalists were killed for their work in Somalia in 2009.