MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) — One Somali journalist was shot dead by gunmen on Friday while a second journalist was beheaded and his body dumped in the street, officials and residents said, two attacks that bring the number of Somali journalists killed this year to 15.
No group has yet claimed responsibility for the latest killings, but the deaths fit into a year-long pattern of targeted attacks against Somali journalists. Reporters must watch for attacks from militants and criminals and know that such deaths have been met with judicial inaction in a capital city with crippled government institutions.
Residents in an area just north of Mogadishu discovered the headless dead body of Abdirahman Mohamed Ali, a 26-year-old sports writer with his hands tied behind his back on Thursday. His body also showed signs of torture. No previous killing of a journalist has involved a beheading, and the method of death could be an indication that al-Qaida-linked militants from al-Shabab were responsible.
"His decapitated body was dumped near a restaurant. We were shocked to see his severed head placed on his chest," Ahmed Abdinur, a resident in the restive Suqa Holaha area, said by phone. "We don't know who beheaded him, but our village has seen several such headless bodies before."
Unidentified gunmen shot and killed Ahmed Abdulahi Fanah, a 32-year-old reporter who was working for the Yemeni news agency, the Somali journalists union said Friday. He was shot and killed as he walked out of his home on the way to work, it said.
The killings have made going to work a life-and-death decision for Somali journalists. One female television journalist said she won't risk her life any longer.
"I have decided to leave the country because the time we expected would bring peace and liberty has turned into the worst we have ever seen," Sahra Abdulahi Isse said. "The death threats have increased. ... I will be leaving for Uganda for my own safety."
Most of the 15 deaths appear to have been targeted killings, though last week three journalists were killed when a suicide bomber detonated explosives in a cafe popular with journalists and politicians. The day after that attack gunmen shot and killed another journalist.
Most of the killings have taken place in areas of Mogadishu nominally under the Somali government's control. Despite government promises of prosecutions, no arrests have yet been made for any of the killings in 2012.
"The terrible killings of two more journalists within the space of 36 hours makes clear that tackling the culture of impunity surrounding such atrocities can no longer wait," said Leslie Lefkow, deputy Africa director at Human Rights Watch. "The new president should make investigating the killings a priority, today."