Al-Shabaab targets soldiers and journalists in Somalia
MOGADISHU, Somalia - Al-Shabaab militants on Monday targeted soldiers and journalists in the country, in an attack that comes amid a heightened crackdown by government security officers and the team from the African Union Transition Mission [ATMIS].
A report filed by the government indicates that at least three people died when their vehicle was targeted by an Improvised Explosive Device [IED] within the vicinity of Qabno township in southern Matabaan, Hiraan region of the country.
Officials said among those who died were two soldiers who responded to the attack at the scene. Three people among them TV journalists attached to the HirShabelle regional TV were critically injured and are currently being treated in various facilities within the country.
The explosion occurred as Somali government forces clashed with Al-Shabaab militants in the area. Government forces entered the area in an effort to clear the militants. Reports coming within the last few minutes say the militants launched a counterattack and there is an ongoing firefight.
SJS, a media lobby group within the country, has since condemned the attack, asking various groups to respect media freedoms for the sake of prosperity. The media has often borne the brunt of the group's cowardly attacks within the country.
“We are shocked to learn about the bomb attack on the journalists’ vehicle in Qabno locality, central Somalia today. Journalists Abdikarin and Khalid who work for Hirshabelle State-owned TV were wounded. They're currently receiving medical attention," the group noted.
"Journalists are independent observers and all warring sides should know that, under international humanitarian law, it is unlawful to target journalists and media crew and therefore should ensure their safety and security. We pray for a speedy recovery of the two colleagues."
The United Nations has often blamed the group for attacks targeting journalists in the country, with others dying in various documented incidents. The former administration of Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed better known as Farmajo was also linked to the violation of media rights.