An independent United Nations human rights expert has called on all Somalis to help prevent the kind of bloodshed witnessed this week when 33 people were killed during a hotel bombing in the capital, and to assist in bringing those responsible to justice.
“I urge a grassroots effort to prevent a repetition of this atrocious act,” said Shamsul Bari, the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia, referring to the 24 August attack on the Muna Hotel in Mogadishu.
Four members of Somalia’s Transitional Federal Parliament died in the attack, which was strongly condemned by UN officials and the Security Council, and is the latest act of violence to hit the strife-torn Horn of Africa nation.
“This deplorable attack once again demonstrates that the extremists will stop at nothing in their desperate attempt to seize power by force,” said Dr. Bari.
“However, the perpetrators of these desperate acts during the holy month of Ramadan will never win the hearts and minds of Somali people,” he added.
Violence in Mogadishu has led to some 3,000 conflict-related casualties so far this year and uprooted around 200,000 people from the city, which has been the scene of ongoing clashes between Government troops and Islamist militant groups, including Al-Shabaab.
“I appeal to the international community, as a matter of urgency, to rethink and renew its commitment to giving the protection of civilians and their access to humanitarian assistance the highest priority in Somalia,” said Dr. Bari.
In a related development, the head of the UN agency tasked with defending press freedom has deplored the death of Somali journalist Barkhad Awale Adan, who was killed while fixing the transmitter on the roof of his radio station, Hurma Radio, amid fighting on Tuesday.
“The Somali press is paying an exorbitant price for the instability prevailing in the country,” Irina Bokova, Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), stated in a news release.
“Combatants must respect journalists’ immunity. Without it, without security, no freedom of expression worthy of the name can exist, even though it is a fundamental human right.”
Mr. Adan, 60, was standing on the roof of the radio station, helping a technician to repair the transmitter, when he was hit in the stomach by a bullet, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), a non-governmental organization. He was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital.