Radio journalist Farhan Jeemis Abdulle (left), was shot and killed by masked gunmen in Somalia’s northern town of Galkayo late Wednesday.
The killing came on the eve of World Press Freedom Day, an annual event to highlight threats to media, journalists and freedom of expression.
Abdulle, who worked for Radio Daljir in the Puntland region, was returning home when he was attacked, Agence France-Presse reports.
“He left the radio station and a few minutes later we were told he was dead,” Abdifatah Omar, director of Radio Daljir, told AFP. “It was shocking and unbelievable to all of us. They brutally shot him several times.”
“He was working for Daljir Radio since it was founded and was one of the best journalists, I had worked with.”
No group has claimed responsibility for Abdulle’s death.
His killing occurred hours after the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) marked International World Press Freedom Day in Galkacyo with an event – The Safety of Journalists: Challenges and Strategies – in collaboration with the Puntland Ministry of Information and the United Nations Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS).
The union said that more than 30 journalists have been killed in Somalia since 2007.
Abdulle’s murder is the latest in a series of killings designed “to silence the journalists and incapacitate the freedom of expression,” said Burhan Dahir, president of the National Union of Somali Journalists. “The criminals want to put pressure on the media and journalists and prove they are able to kill journalists.”
The union condemned the murder in the strongest terms possible and called on the Puntland administration to undertake an urgent investigation and bring the culprits to court.
Abdulle is the second journalist killed to be killed in Galkacyo this year alone, the union reports. On 4 March, 2012, unknown assailants killed Ali Ahmed Abdi, a journalist for a news website and Radio Galkayo.
Somalia is the world’s most dangerous country for journalists, according to media freedom group Reporters Without Borders.
The killing coincided with a major new report from the Center for International Media Assistance which highlighted continuing threats to journalists and freedom of expression.
“These are exciting times for those who believe media can help transform the world,” according to the report.
“The global reach of digital technology has armed the public with tools hard to imagine even a decade ago,” says Empowering Independent Media: U.S. Efforts to Foster a Free Press and an Open Internet Around the World, a report from the Center for International Media Assistance.
“Journalists—both citizen and professional—now have the ability to shoot video, record audio, and send dispatches from the remotest corners of the world. Armed with smart phones, tablets, and tweets, a media-savvy citizenry has the chance as never before to enforce accountability on those who hide from public scrutiny,” the report observes.
Nevertheless, the CIMA report notes, journalists are increasingly under attack:
Murders of journalists, after staying fairly constant during the 1990s, jumped by more than 30 percent over the past decade, the report found. And far more numerous than the killings were beatings, kidnappings, and threats against the press. There is also a rising trend of imprisoned journalists, from 81 in 2000 to 179 in 2011. The worsening conditions come amid a global decline in press freedom, after two decades of progress. According to Freedom House, only 15 percent of the world’s population lives in countries that enjoy a free press.
The NUSOJ is supported by the National Endowment for Democracy, the Washington-based democracy assistance group.