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Somali radio station and TV satellite destroyed; one dead

New York, December 21, 2009—Mortar shells destroyed the Radio Voice of Democracy building this morning in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, killing Amal Abukar, 22, the wife of the director of the station, Abdirahman Yasin. Abukar died instantly after three mortar shells landed on the station’s building in northern Mogadishu at 10:30 a.m., local journalists told CPJ. Yasin and a producer, Adam Hussein, were injured in the attack.

Yasin was hit by shrapnel in his right leg and Hussein sustained a kidney injury; both journalists received treatment at a local hospital and are recovering, local journalists said. No one claimed responsibility for the shelling. Local journalists told CPJ they believe the station was caught in crossfire between insurgents, government soldiers, and African Union peacekeepers after insurgents fired mortars near the parliament building, according to local news reports.

On Sunday, mortar shells hit the newly constructed satellite dish and antenna for Shabelle Television, a new station, the management of Shabelle Media Network reported. It is unclear whether the shelling was a targeted attack, local journalists said. The station has remained off the air since.

“We send our deepest condolences to the director of Radio Voice of Democracy, Abdirahman Yasin, and to all the staff of both media outlets,” CPJ Africa Program Coordinator Tom Rhodes said today. “CPJ calls on all sides of the conflict to be aware of the presence of journalists and to ensure their safety.”

In the northeast semi-autonomous region of Puntland, the Puntland Intelligence Service arrested Voice of America correspondent Mohamed Yasin and took him to the capital city, Garowe, according to local journalists. Roughly 30 security agents visited Yasin’s home in Galkayo Sunday evening, local journalists said. He is now being held at the Puntland Intelligence Service offices, they told CPJ. The reason for the arrest is still unknown although local journalists said they suspect it may be due to Yasin’s report on displaced Somali citizens who complained of mistreatment in Puntland. A police officer fired at Yasin’s car on November 17 at a checkpoint in front of the regional governor’s office, according to the Media Association of Puntland. 

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