Friday, April 18, 2008

Somali government shuts down radio station

Somali police yesteday raided and closed an independent radio station, arresting five employees in the latest crackdown on media, staff said. Clutching AK-47 rifles, three policemen stormed into the newsroom of Mogadishu-based Radio Voice of Peace, the station’s director Mohamed Ali Irole told Reuters. “They ordered the staff to close down the radio,” he said.
President Abdullahi Yusuf’s interim government - Somalia’s 14th attempt at restoring central rule since the 1991 fall of a dictator - accuses most local radio stations of siding with Islamists waging a bloody insurgency against it. Since relocating to Mogadishu at the start of 2007, the government has raided and temporarily closed most of the nine privately owned radio stations in Mogadishu at some point.
Station owners say the administration is muzzling the press. “They raided us because last night we reported live on the fighting between insurgents and the police around K4 area,” Irole said, referring to a clash in Mogadishu. “I suspect that is the only reason why we were raided and five of our staff including the news editor were arrested.”
Officials were unavailable for comment.
(Source: Reuters/R Netherlands Media Network Weblog)