Mogadishui: Television journalist Ahmed Saakin Farah Ilyas was shot dead on Tuesday and became the 16th journalist to be killed in Somalia this year.
Farah, 25, worked for the privately owned Universal Television in Las Anod, in the breakaway northwestern territory of Somaliland.
“It’s a shocking murder, and part of the anti-media campaign,” said fellow journalist Abdullahi Ahmad Nor.
According to the press freedom watchdog, Reporters Without Borders, Somalia now ranks alongside Syria as the deadliest countries in the world for journalists in 2012. No suspects have been arrested for any of the murders. At one time, the killing of journalists - during the Mogadishu conflict years - was usually carried out by Al Shabab the Islamist group linked to Al Qaida.
But this year the list of potential killers has also included business leaders and politicians, said Tom Rhodes, of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).
“Everyone knows in Somalia that you can kill a journalist and there will be no repercussions,” he said, adding: “The other problem is that some of the perpetrators of these murders may very well be those in authority so they can hide behind their positions.”
Mohammad Ebrahim, the secretary of a journalists’ union in Somalia, believes that most killings are carried out by Al Shabab militants while the rest “are either politically motivated assassinations or by independent criminals whose aim are all about disrupting the increasing media landscape in Somalia.”
The British ambassador to Somalia, Matt Baugh, and the UN representative to Somalia, Augustine Mahiga, have appealed to the Somali government to halt the killings.
In addition to the 16 deaths, about 20 other journalists have been injured in attacks, including Mohmoud Tuuryare, a journalist for the Shabelle media network who was shot at the weekend and is now in a critical condition.