Abdinasir Abdulle Ga’al, a camera operator with the military-owned Somali National Army Radio, was killed on August 14, 2019, in a car bomb attack by members of the Al-Shabaab militant group against an army base in Awdheegle, southern Somalia, where he was reporting, according to news reports and the station’s director, Mohamed Muse, who spoke to CPJ via messaging application.
The militants exploded two car bombs at the base and then engaged Somali soldiers in a gunfight, according to a report by the U.S. Congress-funded broadcaster Voice of America. Mohamed told CPJ that Abdinasir was killed by one of the car bombs, and that he died at the scene, of injuries to his head.
Abdinasir, 23, had been working with Somali National Army Radio for three years as a camera operator, and had been sent on assignment to Awdheegle to interview locals about how their lives had changed since the army took the town from Al-Shabaab in August, according to Mohamed.
Somali National Army Radio is owned by the military and its coverage focuses on the activities of the Somali Armed Forces and the African Union Mission in Somalia, a peacekeeping mission to the country, according to CPJ’s review of the station’s website and Mohamed Ibrahim Moalimuu, the secretary-general of the Federation of Somali Journalists, a local press group, who spoke to CPJ via messaging application. The broadcaster’s reporting generally favors the government and the military, according to CPJ’s review of its output.
Mohamed told CPJ that Abdinasir covered army activities and “social issues.” He shared videos shot by Abdinasir in early 2019, which depicted military officers interacting with the public and discussing operations against Al-Shabaab. He said that Abdinasir’s footage from Awdheegle was lost when his camera was destroyed in the attack, but that it would have been posted on the Somali National Army Radio’s social media pages and shared with the Somali state broadcaster SNTV.
Photographs of Abdinasir in military uniform were circulated on social media shortly after he was killed. Mohamed and Moalimuu told CPJ that Abdinasir was not a soldier. Mohamed said that journalists embedded with army are required to wear uniforms so they do not stand out. Moalimuu said that the Abdinasir was not wearing a press jacket or any protective equipment at the time he was killed.