TV journalist Ahmed Farah Ilyas was killed in Somaliland on Tuesday. (Somalilandpress)
TV journalist Ahmed Farah Ilyas was killed in Somaliland on Tuesday. (Somalilandpress)

In first for Somaliland, gunmen kill journalist

Nairobi, October 24, 2012–Unidentified gunmen killed a journalist in the Somaliland town of Las Anod on Tuesday, the first work-related fatality CPJ has documented in the semi-autonomous republic.

Ahmed Farah Ilyas, a correspondent for the private, London-based Universal TV, was killed while walking home from work at around 9 p.m., according to local journalists and news reports. The gunmen fled the scene before the Somaliland police arrived, news reports said.

Dahir Adan, a local police official, told Agence France-Presse that police were investigating the murder, but had not yet confirmed a motive. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Ahmed, 25, had worked as a journalist for more than eight years and was the Las Anod representative of the Somaliland Journalists Association, a local press freedom group. Hours before his death, he had reported on a bomb blast that authorities blamed on Islamic insurgents, according to local journalists and news reports.

Police had briefly detained Ahmed, along with two other journalists, on October 12 in connection with their coverage of Las Anod residents expressing their support for the new Somali prime minister, Abdi Farah Shirdon, according to local reports.

“It’s a sad day when journalists are targeted in Somaliland, a region that has been relatively secure amid a country riddled with violence,” said CPJ East Africa Consultant Tom Rhodes. “We call on Somaliland authorities to ensure this trend does not continue and urge Las Anod authorities to determine the motive in this murder and do their utmost to find the perpetrators.”

The restive town of Las Anod straddles the border between Somaliland and the semi-autonomous region of Puntland, where skirmishes between forces loyal to both regions occasionally occur, according to local journalists. Local journalists said Somaliland authorities often consider the private press in Las Anod to support the opposition to the Somaliland government. CPJ has recorded 12 cases of authorities arbitrarily detaining journalists in Las Anod this year, including three Universal TV journalists on separate occasions.

At least 10 other journalists have been killed in Somalia so far in 2012, according to CPJ research. This is one of the worst years for the press in the country. CPJ ranks Somalia as the deadliest country for the press in Africa and the second deadliest in the world.

  • For more data and analysis on Somalia, visit CPJ’s Somalia page here.