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UNESCO alarmed by growing violence against journalists in Somalia

UNESCO alarmed by growing violence against journalists in Somalia

The head of the United Nations body mandated to protect press freedom today voiced grave concern at the growing violence against the media in Somalia following the murder of two journalists and the injuring of a third.

“Journalists and media workers provide a service that is essential for any democratic society, a service that becomes all the more vital in societies that are trying to find their way out of strife,” UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura said in a statement.

“Journalists play an indispensable role in enabling citizens to hold open debate and make informed decisions. There can be no acceptable political or religious reason for attacking the men and women who make possible the fundamental human right of freedom of expression,” he added.

HornAfrik Radio journalist Mahad Ahmed Elmi was gunned down by four unknown men on Saturday and Ali Iman Sharmarke, founder and chairman of HornAfrik, was killed in his car by a remotely detonated mine as he returned from his colleague’s funeral. Reuters News Agency Reporter Sahal Abdulle was injured in the blast.

No group has so far claimed responsibility for the crimes, the most recent in a spate of attacks against the media which brings to six the number of journalists killed this year in a country that has had no functioning central government since the regime of Muhammad Siad Barre was toppled in 1991.

In an earlier statement condemning the attacks, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia Eric Laroche called for decisive action to ensure the freedom and safety of the media in the faction-riven country.