The Al Jazeera news agency reported recently that Somali security forces had arrested U.K. journalist Hamza Muhamed and several colleagues on October 18th, 2016. The authorities released the British reporter by Thursday. Mr. Muhamed, an experienced newsman, has covered developments in the tense East African nation on several occasions for Al Jazeera during the past few years. His group had just returned to Mogadishu from a rebel-held area at the time of the arrest.
A Dangerous Work Environment
Although reporters encounter challenges in many parts of the globe today, during recent years war-torn Somalia has become one of the most hazardous locations for members of the press. Journalists report frequently facing intimidation and threats there from a variety of sources, including government forces and, primarily, from Al-Shabaab terrorists with ties to Al-Qaeda. Local people sometimes retaliate against members of the media for actions taken by opponents, for instance.
Reporters Without Borders ranks Somalia relatively low on its roster of countries enjoying press freedom: it rated 167th out of the 180 nations evaluated. The Committee to Protect Journalists reports between 2007 and 2015, 45 Somali reporters perished performing their jobs. The United Nations recently disclosed some disturbing statistics which suggest increased violence recently. Since the date when the current Somali government took power in August, 2012 and the present, some 30 journalists died violently.
A Recent Murder
As hazardous as working in Somalia often proves for visiting international journalists, the nation perhaps holds even more threats for local newspaper reporters and editors. Some press agencies have expressed concern that members of the news media often become innocent victims of the ongoing conflict between security forces and terrorists.
Last month, an unidentified assailant gunned down a local radio station reporter named Abdiaziz Mohamed Ali just outside his residence in Mogadishu. The victim became the 11th member of the radio station’s staff to perish violently, and the second journalist to die from murder in the nation this year.
A Troubled Road Ahead
Unfortunately, the violence afflicting the region does not appear likely to abate anytime soon. Just this week, reports surfaced that Al Shabaab militants had carried out three violent attacks in the country and in neighboring Kenya within a 24-hour span of time. They exploded a suicide truck bomb at a military base, murdered an intelligence officer and killed 12 hotel guests in a Kenyan border community.