Reporters Without Borders is saddened to learn that Ahmed Saakin Farah Ilyas, a young TV journalist based in Las Anod, in the breakaway northwestern territory of Somaliland, was gunned down as he returned home yesterday. Employed by privately-owned Universal Television, Ahmed Saakin Farah Ilyas was shot several times in the head by gunmen who have yet to be identified. He was the 16th journalist to be killed this year in Somalia.
“As a result of this grim death toll rising week by week, Somalia now ranks alongside Syria as one of the two deadliest countries in the world for journalists in 2012,” Reporters Without Borders said.
“Yesterday’s tragedy highlighted the fact that journalists are exposed to appalling dangers in the rest of the country as well as the capital, Mogadishu. There is an increasingly urgent need for the authorities to take measures to protect journalists against both armed militias and officials who try to silence news media.”
The political and security situation is very tense in Somaliland and journalists are often the direct victims of the local government’s desire to control the circulation of information.
Ahmed Saakin Farah Ilyas and two of his colleagues were briefly detained on 12 October for broadcasting programmes presenting Somali Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon in a favourable light. Many other arbitrary arrests of journalists have taken place in Las Anod.
The comedian Abdi Jeylani Malaq, a Universal Television colleague of Ilyas, was gunned down in similar circumstances in Mogadishu in August.