Journalist, fearing attack, flees town in Mali

Soumaïla Abdoulaye Maïga, a presenter with community station Radio Soni in the northeastern town of Ansongo, went into hiding on April 13, 2012, after being warned of an imminent attack by separatist fighters of the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), according to local journalists. After Maïga fled, the fighters raided his house and detained a fellow journalist and friend, local journalists said.

Maïga told CPJ that he had received a tip that said he was in danger in connection with a radio broadcast he had done that rebels perceived to be favorable to the Malian government. During an April 12, 2012, newscast, Maïga had reported extensively on the swearing-in of interim Malian President Dioncounda Traoré, according to Fatoumata Abdou, the director of Radio Soni.

MNLA fighters went to his home shortly after he fled, and threatened his friend, journalist Youssouf Touré. The next day, the rebels ordered Radio Soni, the only functioning station in the town, to change its name to Radio Azawad, Abdou told CPJ. Abdou closed the station for one day to protest the intimidation, she said.

The MNLA seized Ansongo in late March 2012 and have pushed back the Malian army in an attempt to create an independent state in northern Mali, according to news reports.