Africa: Two Artillery Shells Destroy Newspaper Office, Journalists Released

Artillery shells hit  a newspaper office in Mogadishu on 30 March, 2011, around 8:00am local time, NUSOJ reported.

The office of Xog-ogaal newspaper was hit by artillery shells twice after heavy fighting broke out between the Shabab and the government allied by the African Union forces.

The artillery rounds destroyed the roof of the office and the front door and two computers inside the office were damaged, according to Ismail Omar Madobe, an assistant editor of the newspaper.  But no journalists’ casualties have so far been reported.

The newspaper office located in Bakara market, Shabab controlled area, which has been a battle front for the last couple months after the government and the African Union forces launched an offensive against the Shabab. The market has not been so popular since the offensive started.

Meanwhile, Shabelle radio staffers  were released on Wednesday noon 30 March, 2011, following their arrest on the National Security Agency on Sunday.  News Editor Abdi Mohammed Ismail and Director Abdirashid Omar Qase were arrested upon their arrival at security agency headquarters in Mogadishu, according to Shabelle Radio.

The Radio was accused in misreporting the president Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed’s visit to the frontlines on March 22, 2011. The ministry of Information Posts and Telecommunication said in a statement that the news aired by Shabelle Radio misrepresented the situation in Mogadishu and that was detrimental to the national security.

“We were treated very good, we were not tortured and I am glad we were released safely.” Abdi Mohamed Ismail, Shabelle’s news editor told NUSOJ.

“We are relieved by the release of our colleagues.” Mohammed Ibrahim, NUSOJ Acting Secretary General said, “We call upon for the warring groups to respect the media stations and refrain from attacking media houses, which if continues could be disastrous to the media society in Somalia, while we condemn the strongest terms possible in such violations.”

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