Somali journalists mourn colleague killed in blast

MOGADISHU, Aug. 15 — Somali journalists on Wednesday mourned the death of a colleague who was killed during a fierce fighting between Somalia National Army (SNA) and al-Shabab militants in southern region on Wednesday.

The Federation of Somali Journalists (FESOJ), an umbrella union of journalists, said Gacal Abdulle Gacal, a cameraman who was working with radio of SNA was among those killed when the militant group stormed a military base in Awdheegle town.

“We are so shocked to hear the death of our colleague Gacal in a big blast in Awdheegle village. He went there for assignment and embedded (undercover) with troops,” Mohamed Muse, director of SNA radio, said.

The explosion went off when a suicide bomber detonated his car laden with explosives in Awdheegle town.

Heavy gunfire followed by sounds of mortar shells could be heard through the town, according to local residents.

Somali security forces said they killed seven militants and foiled the attack. Al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the latest attack, saying they killed 10 government forces.

“We would like to pass on our deepest condolences to the family, colleagues, and friends of Gacal Abdulle Gacal for their loss. His death while embedded with Somali National Army is a tragedy,” Mohamed Ibrahim Moalimuu, Secretary General of FESOJ.

The 23-year-old Gacal is the third journalist to have been killed in Somalia since the beginning of 2019, according to the union.

The union called on warring parties to the ongoing conflict in Somalia to respect the freedom of the press.

“We condemn radio journalist Gacal’s murder in the strongest terms as it is a serious press freedom violation. We demand an investigation how the journalist is killed,” Abdadir Abdulkadir Elmi, president of FESOJ said.

Al-Shabab, which is fighting to overthrow the international-backed government, was driven out of Mogadishu in 2011, and have since lost many strongholds to the allied forces. – XINHUA