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US condemns murder of TV journalist in Somalia, blames Al-Shabaab for the assassination

By Staff reporter , Garowe Online

MOGADISHU, Somalia - The murder of TV journalist Abdiwali Ali Hassan was an act of cowardice and paranoia, the US has paid, terming the death "a big blow to Somali people".

Hassan, 25, was gunned down on Sunday at Afgoye town, 18 miles south of the capital Mogadishu, in the latest series of unprecedented murder targeting journalists.

At the time of the murder, the journalist, who worked for Radio Kulmiye in Mogadishu and London-based Universal TV, was headed home from work last Friday, his family said.

Two gunmen armed with short-range sophisticated pistols shot him several times on chest and head. Nobody is yet to take responsibility, police said.

Ryan Grizzle, the spokesperson for the US embassy in Somalia, condemned the murder, adding that "The US extends sincere condolences to his wife and children, friends, and colleagues".

Although no group has taken responsibility, the US was quick to blame Al-Qaida linked Al-Shabaab, without divulging to finer details.

The militant group has caused havoc within East Africa since 2006, in its quest to topple fragile UN-backed Somalia government, UN said in a report.

By targeting and killing media workers whose job it is to educate and inform Somalis, the US said, "Al Shabaab is bent on silencing the voices of Somali people".

"We salute the tremendous work that Somali journalists do, and recognize the risk and difficulty in their work environment," Grizzle added in a statement.

The US insisted that it will stand with Somalis to "defend inalienable rights to press freedom and expression" which have been bluntly abused in the war-torn nation.

Washington, which is a critical player in Somalia's peace campaigns added: "We also call for the end of the culture of violence and impunity that threatens it".

Ironically, the murder comes days after Amnesty International released a report which implicates FGS and Al-Shabaab of instigating murder, corruption, and censorship targeting media houses.

Dubbed "we live in perpetual fears", the report exposed difficulties journalists undergo in Somalia, revealing several deaths and arbitrary detentions targeting reporters across the country.

Authorities in Lower Shebelle have announced "several arrests" in connection with the murder, although names of the suspects are yet to be released.

Ibrahim Adan Ali, the area governor, ordered immediate investigations into the killing of the journalist, adding that perpetrators "must face the law".

Afgoye District Commissioner Ibrahim Omar Qasim said security forces made arrests within the scene of the shooting, and are currently being interrogated.

Working as a journalist in Somalia is becoming a daunting task, Amnesty International said, arguing that both government operatives and Al-Shabaab issue threats, causing fear and panic.

The murder of the young TV journalist in Afgoye records the first media worker killed in Somalia this year.