New York, September 5, 2011—The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on the African Union to ensure the safety of civilians operating in Somalia after witnesses reported that AU forces fired on a Malaysian humanitarian convoy in Mogadishu on Friday, killing one journalist and injuring another. Calling the shootings “deeply regrettable,” the African Union Mission in Somalia said in a statement that it has undertaken an investigation and would publicize its findings.
Killed in the gunfire was Noramfaizul Mohd, 39, a cameramen for Malaysia’s national Bernama TV who was accompanying the Putera 1Malaysia Club on a humanitarian aid mission, Bernama TV said in a statement. Aji Saregar, 27, a camera operator for Malaysia’s TV3, was struck in the right hand by gunfire and returned to Malaysia on Sunday, the journalist told CPJ.
Muhideen Mohamed, a local coordinator for the Malaysian aid group, told Reuters that the convoy was traveling to its base at the Mogadishu airport when the shootings took place near a busy intersection known as Kilometer Four, according to international news reports.
The African Union Mission in Somalia, or AMISOM, said it was conducting its investigation in conjunction with Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government. Maj. Gen. Fred Mugisha, commander of AU forces in Somalia, said in a statement that “appropriate action will be taken against any soldiers found to have acted improperly.”
“We call on the African Union Mission to Somalia to ensure that its investigation is swift and transparent, and holds those responsible to account,” said Tom Rhodes, CPJ’s East Africa consultant. “AU forces must learn the lesson from the killing of Noramfaizul Mohd and the wounding of Aji Saregar and ensure that such a tragedy never reoccurs.”
Mohd, a veteran journalist, had covered earlier aid missions to Gaza and Pakistan, his father told Bernama TV. Mohd is survived by a wife and two sons, the younger just 3.
Last month, sniper fire killed Radio Simba staffer Farah Hassan outside the station’s compound in Mogadishu. Some witnesses reported that the shots came from an area controlled by AU forces. At least 34 other journalists have been killed in direct relation to their work in Somalia since 1992, making it the seventh deadliest country in the world for the press, according to CPJ research.