Authorities in Somalia have been urged by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) to urgently investigate an attack on the privately-owned station Universal TV and hold those responsible to account.
As many as 10 armed individuals, including nine in police uniform, who claimed to be attached to Somalia’s revenue authority, stormed the offices of Universal TV in the capital, Mogadishu, during the weekend.
Recounting the attack, Abdullahi Hersi Kulmiye, Universal TV’s East Africa director, said the armed people stormed the building on Saturday.
Abdullahi said that when he warned the armed men that their actions might be recorded, the leader confiscated his phone and began shooting inside the building.
Most of the staff had been moved to another part of the building by the time the shooting started and no one was injured.
Abdullahi said that a camera was damaged and programming was disrupted during the morning and did not resume until later in the afternoon.
Military guards from the nearby presidential palace arrived at Universal TV and disarmed and detained the 10 men.
Abdullahi and Mohamed Ibrahim Moalimuu, secretary general of the government-recognised National Union of Somali Journalists, both said the motive for the attack was unclear.
In an email to the CPJ, Moalimuu said: “We believe it is kind of intimidation or pressure from the commander behind the raid.”
The man who led the raid was in civilian clothing.
Abdinur Mohamed Ahmed, the director of communication at the office of the president in Somalia, on Wednesday said the case was under investigation and “appropriate measures would be taken once investigations are complete”.
In a March 30 post on his official Facebook page condemning the attack, Abdinur said it was unacceptable that it was carried out by a section of the same security forces meant to enforce the rule of law.
The commissioner of police, Bashir Abdi Mohamed, and Internal Security Minister Mohamed Islow Duale have denied deploying police to the station and said they would investigate.
CPJ’s Sub-Saharan Africa representative, Muthoki Mumo, said: “This attack on Universal TV is outrageous and an unfortunate reminder that Somali journalists cannot expect safety, even in their own offices.
“Authorities need to guard against impunity by credibly investigating this attack and ensuring those responsible are prosecuted.”
– African News Agency