Somali militias shut two radio stations

New York, June 23, 2011Gunmen from pro- and anti-government militias raided and shuttered two radio stations in Somalia in separate attacks on Wednesday, local journalists reported. 

An armed group with links to the hardline insurgency Al-Shabaab stormed the private Voice of Hiran on Wednesday morning in the central town of Beledweyne, ordering all staff to leave the premises, local journalists told CPJ. According to a source who spoke on condition of anonymity, Al-Shabaab militants disapproved of a program that critically examined suicide as a martyrdom tactic in Islam.

In the central town of Dhusa Mareb, the Sufi militia Ahlu Sunna Wal Jama’a, which supports the Transitional Federal Government, raided Dhusa Mareb Radio on Wednesday evening and detained editor Abdikafi Hashi for four hours, local journalists reported. The station had run reports of infighting among Ahlu-Sunna Wal Jama’a leaders.

“Armed groups on all sides of the conflict must stop using the media as pawns,” said CPJ East Africa Consultant Tom Rhodes. “Both groups involved in Wednesday’s attacks should allow journalists to return to work and the stations to resume their normal broadcasting immediately.”

Dhusa Mareb Radio has been targeted by anti-government forces as well. Al-Shabaab militants looted the station in April while briefly controlling the town.