Foday (The Exclusive)
Foday (The Exclusive)

Sierra Leone journalist murdered; suspects in custody

New York, June 15, 2011–Police in Sierra Leone have arrested three suspects, including a police officer, for the killing of a reporter this Sunday during violent clashes over a land dispute on the outskirts of the capital, Freetown, according to local journalists. 

Ibrahim Foday, 38, a reporter at the private daily newspaper The Exclusive, was beaten and stabbed by assailants during an outbreak of violence between neighboring villages Kossoh and Grafton, 16 miles (25 kilometers) southeast of the capital, Freetown, according to Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ). Foday, a resident of Grafton, was attacked for taking photographs of Kossoh rioters. 

The locals who attacked him believed Foday was biased against them, according to local journalists. Local police have arrested a Kossoh community leader and a police officer, according to the same sources. Police said they were seeking a third suspect as well. 

Foday had been covering three days of violent clashes between the communities over longstanding claims to a 10-acre plot of land, according to The Exclusive‘s publisher, Sheik Sesay. Six people were injured over the course of three days of clashes, which started on Friday, he said. Foday had not reported any previous threats, according to the publisher.

An autopsy performed on Tuesday determined that Foday died from a knife wound on his back, according to SLAJ. He was attacked by a group of armed youth from Kossoh on a bridge separating the two communities, according to two witnesses CPJ spoke with.

 “We condemn the killing of Ibrahim Foday,” said CPJ Africa Advocacy Coordinator Mohamed Keita. “We urge Sierra Leonean authorities to ensure that the perpetrators of this heinous murder be brought to justice.”  

Foday, a father of two, had been reporting with The Exclusive for about five years, according to Sesay. He is the 17th journalist killed in the line of duty in Sierra Leone since 1992, according to CPJ research. 

Editor’s note: The original text of this alert was modified in paragraph 3 to correct the number of suspects under arrest, and in the final paragraph to correct the number of Foday’s children.