* Police say they were carrying out eviction order
* Union says journalists beaten, detained for several hours
* Journalist dies from wounds in separate shooting incident
By Abdi Sheikh and Feisal Omar
MOGADISHU, Oct 27 Somali security agents stormed
and shut down two radio stations, beat and detained reporters,
and impounded their equipment, their union said.
The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) said the
raid in Mogadishu on Saturday was connected to stories Radio
Shabelle and SkyFM, both part of the Shabelle Media Network, had
aired touching on accusations of corruption within government.
Police said they were carrying out an eviction order after
the network failed to vacate the government-owned building. Both
stations were housed in the same building, which also served as
a residence for the journalists.
"They did not follow the order to abandon the government
building. The government had told them to leave the building in
which the radio operated because it was not theirs," Colonel
Abdikadir Mohamed, a senior police officer told Reuters.
Journalists have been among the victims since Somalia
descended into war in the early 1990s, with last year being the
deadliest on record for journalists in the country, with 18
killed, according to NUSOJ.
"Radio Shabelle was on air during the attack and the public
could hear the beatings and noise inside the studio until the
police violently disabled computer servers and radio
transmission equipment before shutting down the generators,
effectively halting broadcasting indefinitely," NUSOJ said.
The union said police arrested 36 journalists and detained
them for several hours, adding police sources had told it that
officers were working on bringing criminal charges against eight
reporters and the chairman of Shabelle Media Network.
Mogadishu's security has been improving in recent months but
many parts of the city remain no go areas for aid workers and
journalists. All media companies and radio stations are
congested around the well-secured K4 and airport areas.
"The raiding of Radio Shabelle and SkyFM and the arbitrary
switch-off of two radio stations clearly indicates an
orchestrated invasion on free media and drastically injures the
rights to freedom of expression, media and access to
information," the union said.
Somalia is a fragmented state where the federal government
has limited control beyond the boundaries of Mogadishu. Islamist
al Shabaab militants, who control swathes of countryside, still
carry out bombings and shootings in the capital.
In a separate incident, Mohamed Mohamud, a journalist who
was shot six times by gunmen on Tuesday, died on Saturday,
bringing the number of reporters killed in Somalia this year to
seven. He worked for the privately owned Universal TV.
"The government always said it would arrest the murderers
but has done nothing to curb assassinations. This time we will
not be quiet. It has to prove it is concerned," Abdullahi Hirsi
Kulmiye, East Africa bureau chief for Universal TV told Reuters.
(Editing by Alison Williams)