Somalia’s government has declared a crackdown on media organisations that publish what it deems propaganda for the armed group al-Shabab, warning offenders will be punished.
The armed forces, backed by local militias and international allies, have waged an aggressive campaign against the al-Qaeda-linked group.
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“I want to inform the Somali media and all Somali people in general that we will regard all al-Shabab related propaganda coverage – including their terrorist acts and their ideology – as punishable crimes,” Deputy Minister for Information, Culture and Tourism Abdirahman Yusuf said on Saturday.
“The Somali government is totally banning all kinds of coverage relating to the terrorist ideology and acts of intimidation by [al-Shabab],” he told reporters.
Yusuf said the government also launched cyber-operations against “terrorist accounts” on social media and suspended more than 40 on Facebook and Twitter.
Recently elected President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has pledged to defeat the armed group after countless deadly attacks.
In August, al-Shabab fighters unleashed a gun-and-bomb assault in a deadly 30-hour siege of a hotel that killed 21 people.
The armed group was driven out of Mogadishu by African Union forces in 2011. However, it still controls swaths of the countryside.
The deadliest attack occurred in October 2017 when a truck packed with explosives blew up in Mogadishu, killing 512 people.