Suicide bomber kills Somali journalist, CPJ calls for probe

The Committee to Protect Journalists has called for a probe of the suicide bombing that killed Abdiaziz Mohamud Guled and injured Sharmarke Mohamed Warsame and Abdukadir Abdullahi Nur in the capital of Mogadishu on November 20.

Abdiaziz, a well-known journalist also known as Abdiaziz Afrika (Cabdicasiis Afrika) who worked as director of the government-owned Radio Mogadishu, was killed by a suicide attack as he was leaving a restaurant. Sharmarke, a director of the government-owned Somali National TV, and their driver Abdukadir Abdullahi Nur, were injured in the attack, according to multiple media reports.

The militant group Al-Shabaab took responsibility for the attack and said they had been “hunting” Abdiaziz for a long time, according to those reports. However, a November 21 report by the Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS), a local press rights group, said it “was not clear how the suicide bomber identified the journalists’ vehicle and got knowledge of their movement.”

Questions about how the attackers knew Abdiaziz was behind the tinted windows of a car that wasn’t his own, heighten the need for a thorough investigation, SJS Secretary General Abdalle Ahmed Mumin told CPJ by phone. “Somalia is one of the most dangerous places for journalists in the world and this tragic attack is just another example of that,” said Angela Quintal, CPJ’s Africa program coordinator.

“A thorough and transparent investigation into the attack that killed Abdiaziz Mohamud Guled and injured Sharmarke Mohamed Warsame and Abdukadir Abdullahi Nur is critical for authorities to signal that they are serious about reversing the impunity that prevails in journalists’ killings in Somalia.”

Abdullahi Amin Mohamud, the editor of Somali National TV who is known by the name Abdullahi Qorshe, told CPJ he was about 20 meters – about 22 yards – away from the attack when he saw the blast, and then helped get Sharmarke and Abdukadir to hospital, where they remain.

“Everyone was running in different directions, and it was terrifying,” he said. “It was a really sad situation, when you see your colleague and friend is dying in front of you.” Journalists working for government-owned media are specifically targeted by Al-Shabaab, Abdullahi told CPJ, adding that “[Abdiaziz] Afrika was the biggest target” because of a program he hosted, where he interviewed imprisoned members of the militant group.

Other than his position with the state media, Sharmarke was not working on anything that would have made him a more likely target for Al-Shabaab, Abdullahi said. A statement by Somalia’s Information Minister Osman Abokar Dubbe, which was posted on Facebook by Radio Mogadishu on November 20, said Abdiaziz was “killed in an explosion” and “targeted” because he “gave everything for the state-building process.”

Abdiaziz was buried November 21, according to a tweet by the local Shabelle Media Network and Abdalle. For the last seven years, Somalia has topped CPJ’s Impunity Index, which tracks countries’ records of holding journalists’ killers to account. Abdalle told CPJ he had “slim hope” that authorities would be able to reverse that trend on the killing of Abdiaziz.

CPJ reached Somali presidential spokesperson Abdirashid Mohamed Hashi by phone. He said he was in a meeting and would call back in ten minutes but did not. CPJ’s calls to Somalia police spokesperson Zakia Hussein and Abdirahman Yusuf Omar, Somalia’s deputy information minister, went unanswered.

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