2 Somali Journalists Killed In Mogadishu

GENERIC: Somalia, Soldier, Conflict, Desert, Flag
Two Somali radio journalists were killed within hours of each other Saturday in this violent capital, and colleagues said they believe the men were assassinated.

Mahad Ahmed Elmi, 30, was shot by two men with pistols as he went to his office at HornAfrik Media Company early Saturday, witnesses said. Ali Iman Sharmarke, owner of HornAfrik Media Company, was killed by a land mine as he returned from Elmi's burial, said another HornAfrik official, Farah Berey.

"(Sharmarke) was targeted by a land mine, apparently remotely controlled," Berey said. "I think it was an assassination and had something to do with Elmi's death this morning."

Just hours earlier, Sharmarke lameted Elmi's death.

"The killing was meant to prevent a real voice that described the suffering in Mogadishu to other Somalis and to the world," Sharmarke said. "Elmi was a symbol of neutrality."

Elmi, 30, was married and had a son and a daughter.

Elmi's broadcasts have criticized both the Somali government and the Islamic militants who have been trying to topple the administration through a bloody insurgency. There was no immediate indication of who had killed him.

Somali Information Minister Madobe Nunow Mohamed said the killing was "revolting."

"Those who do not know the value of the media are behind such wicked actions," he said.

Mogadishu is increasingly caught in a guerrilla war, with frequent roadside bombs and mortar attacks. Thousands of civilians have been killed, and a fifth of Mogadishu's 2 million residents have fled to squalid camps.

Islamic militants vowed to conduct an insurgency in December, when they were toppled by Ethiopian troops supporting Somalia's government. Somalia has been mired in chaos since 1991, when warlords overthrew dictator Mohamed Siad Barre and then turned on each other.

The government has accused independent radio stations of airing programs "likely to cause unrest."

On Friday, police raided Mogadishu-based Shabelle radio and detained eight journalists for several hours, said Aweis Yusuf Osman, editor of the station's English service. Other stations, including HornAfrik, also have been forced off the air for days at a time this year.