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Somali hardline group detains three journalists

Somalia's hardline Shebab group stormed an independent radio station in the town of Baidoa, ordered broadcasting to stop and detained three journalists, witnesses told AFP Monday.

Heavily armed Shebab forces entered the premises of Radio Jubba late Sunday.

"We don't exactly know why they closed down the radio, but the Shebab have been intimidating journalists in the region recently and we believe this is part of their campaign to silence the independent media," Ali Mohamed, another of the station's journalists said.

According to the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ), Shebab forces detained the radio's director Mukhtar Mohamed Atosh, as well as its editor-in-chief Mohamed Adawe Adan and reporter Mohamed Nur Mohamed.

Baidoa, 250 kilometres (155 miles) northwest of Mogadishu, is officially the seat of Somalia's transitional federal parliament but was conquered by Islamist insurgents in late January.

The Shebab and their Islamist allies controlling the southern third of the lawless country have previously imposed restrictions on the media.

Earlier this month, they closed down an independent radio station near the Kenyan border. Days later, Shebab forces briefly held a journalist working for Radio Shabelle in the Baidoa area.

"We implore the current administration in Baidoa to end this abortive war against media," NUSOJ chief Omar Faruk said in a statement.

Somalia is one of the world's most dangerous places for journalists, who have been routinely arrested by the authorities or kidnapped and killed by various armed groups.

Copyright 2009 AFP Global Edition
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Author:AFP
Publication:AFP Global Edition
Date:Apr 27, 2009
Words:238
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