Nairobi, November 2, 2022—The Committee to Protect Journalists on Wednesday called for accountability for the killing of broadcast journalist Mohamed Isse Hassan and the injuries suffered by two other journalists and one media worker in October 29 twin bomb blasts in the Somali capital, Mogadishu.
At least 120 people were killed in two car bomb explosions outside the education ministry offices, near the busy Zobe junction in Mogadishu, according to multiple media reports. The Al-Shabaab, a militant group linked to Al-Qaeda, claimed responsibility for the attack, according to media reports.
Mohamed—also known as Koonaa—a reporter and producer with the privately owned M24 Somali TV online broadcaster, died at the scene of the explosions after suffering severe head injuries, according to M24 Somali TV’s chief executive officer and founder Abdiwali Abdullahi Hussein, also known as Keytoon, who spoke to CPJ via messaging app, as well as separate statements by the Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) and the Federation of Somali Journalists (FESOJ), two local press rights groups.
Reuters photographer Feisal Omar and Abdulkadir Mohamed Abdulle, director of M24 Somali TV and a contributor to the U.S. Congress-funded broadcaster Voice of America (VOA), also were injured at the scene of the blasts, according to a VOA report and Reuters statement emailed to CPJ. All three journalists had rushed to the scene to report on the first blast when the second bomb exploded, the SJS statement, Abdiwali, and a Reuters spokesperson said. In addition, Bile Abdisalan, a security guard at the Reuters bureau, suffered minor injuries to his leg in the explosions, the Reuters spokesperson said in the statement.
“Mohamed Isse Hassan joins a long list of Somali journalists who have lost their lives in Al-Shabaab attacks, in a country considered one of the most hostile environments for the press. Unfortunately, these attacks are often characterized by a lack of accountability for the culprits,” said Muthoki Mumo, CPJ sub-Saharan Africa representative. “Mohamed and the other journalists and media workers injured in the attack on October 29 deserve justice. Authorities should ensure they receive it.”
Mohamed and Abdulkadir were at the M24 Somali TV offices near the Zobe junction when the first bomb exploded around 2 p.m., Abdiwali and a VOA report said. Both rushed to the scene to cover the first blast and were hit when the second explosion went off minutes later, as ambulances and other first responders arrived, Abdiwali and other media reports said. The Reuters spokesperson said that Feisal was taking photographs “when the secondary blast took place.”
Abdulkadir lost two fingers and had shrapnel wounds in his abdomen, the VOA report said. Abdiwali said that Abdulkadir was discharged from the hospital by October 31. The Reuters spokesperson said that Feisal was “fine and recovering at home” but still needed minor surgery to remove “some debris or shrapnel” that hit him in the torso.
Mohamed, who is survived by his wife and a six-month-old son, previously worked with various media outlets in Mogadishu, including privately owned Universal Somali TV, where he was a reporter until a few months ago, according to Abdiwali and Universal Somali TV East Africa director Abdullahi Hersi Kulmiye, who spoke to CPJ via messaging app. Abdullahi said that Mohamed had also worked with the privately owned Somali outlets Radio Simba, Goobjoog Media Group, and Shabelle Media Network. Mohamed also published his reporting on his Facebook page using the brand Koonaa Media, according to CPJ’s review of that page.
Mohamed is the second journalist to be killed in connection to his work in Somalia this year. On September 30, state-media camera operator Ahmed Mohamed Shukur was killed in a bomb attack by Al-Shabaab. Five years ago, on October 14, 2017, journalist Ali Nur Siad was among at least 500 people killed after a truck bomb detonated at the Zobe junction. That attack was attributed to Al-Shabaab, though the group did not claim responsibility, media reports said.
In a telephone call on Tuesday evening, Somali police spokesperson Sadiq Dodishe asked CPJ to send queries via messaging app but had yet to respond to those questions by publication time.