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Somali radio station under fire

  • Story Highlights
  • Mogadishu's Shabelle Media Network comes under fire, no casualties reported
  • Reports: facility fired on by Transitional Federal Government (TFG) forces
  • Station says it will stay off air until safety can be guaranteed by government
  • TFG detained 16 Shabelle journalists Saturday after firing on the facility
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(CNN) -- Journalist groups rushed to the defense of Somalia's Shabelle Media Network after its Mogadishu facilities came under fire, reportedly from government forces.

Media reports said forces of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) surrounded the Shabelle compound and fired into it, trapping a number of journalists inside.

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A journalist from Somali radio station Shabelle points to a bullet hole in a window of their Mogadishu offices.

"Radio Shabelle is still off the air and will not be coming back until the government can assure the safety of Radio Shabelle's employee's," Mohamed Abdi, head of programs, said Wednesday.

"Yesterday the TFG opened fire all day at the station smashing windows, while five employees remained inside. There are no Radio Shabelle employees left in the building and no staff have been killed or hurt."

The Committee to Protect Journalists condemned the alleged actions of the government forces. The TFG has made no comment about Tuesday's incident.

"The Somali government must do everything in its power to stop this brazen attack on Radio Shabelle and withdraw these security forces immediately," said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon. "Police should be protecting journalists, not attacking them."

The National Union of Somali Journalists issued its own condemnation.

"We denounce this painful and deliberate attack and blockade against Radio Shabelle, and TFG leaders must remove their forces from Shabelle Media Network's building," said Omar Faruk Osman, the group's secretary general.

On Saturday, the Shabelle network reported that 16 of its journalists were detained by transitional government forces after they fired on the facility.

Mogadishu has been a persistent hotbed of violence spawned by the fighting between Ethiopian troops, who are supporting Somalia's transitional government forces, and remnant fighters from the Islamic Courts Union, which was ousted from power late last year by Ethiopian troops.

Washington accused the Islamic movement of harboring fugitives from the al Qaeda terrorist network, including a suspect in the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, and backed the Ethiopian invasion.

The African Union Mission in Somalia, or AMISOM, has been charged with helping restore security and rebuild the war-torn country. The force also is helping to protect the transitional government, backed by the United Nations. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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