Two Somali radio stations silenced

Government troops storm stations in Mogadishu and force them off the air.

    Dozens of civilians have been killed
    in recent fighting[AFP]

    On Monday, authorities in the turbulent Horn of Africa nation shut down Shabelle Radio and briefly detained two of its senior staff.

    Shabelle said on its website that it had received no explanation for its closure or been told how long it would last. It said it was the eighth time this year that the government had shut it down.

    "There has been pressure, intimidation and death threats to the journalists from the government and other people," it said.

    Eight local reporters have been killed while doing their jobs in Somalia this year.

    Presidential appeal

    While the government has closed many independent radio stations, Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, the Somali president, called on Mogadishu residents to support him in the fight against hardline Muslim fighters.

    "My government is doing all it can to save the lives of the Somali people, but insurgents are responsible for the continued violence," Yusuf told a press conference in Nairobi.

    "People in neighbourhoods must also fight the Shabab [armed wing of the main Somali Islamist movement] and chase them away. Otherwise they are the ones who suffer in crackdowns," he said.

    Dozens of civilians have been killed and at least 114,000 displaced from Mogadishu in recent weeks.

    The recent clashes have worsened the humanitarian crisis that has dogged the nation for 16 years, with areas just outside the city  struggling to cope with the latest influx of displaced people.

    Aid workers have said that those who have remained in the the most conflict-ridden areas of Mogadishu were beyond the reach of relief agencies and face dire conditions.

    Worsening conditions

    At least 114,000 Somalis have been displaced 
    in Mogadishu in recent weeks [AFP]

    Pedram Yazdi of the International Committee of the Red Cross, based in Nairobi, told Al Jazeera: "I spent several days in the two main hospitals in Mogadishu ... receiving a lot of wounded.

    "Women and children have been caught up in the fighting in the southern part of Mogadishu, so the situation is quite bad.

    "The surgeons are working all day and all night to keep the wounded alive. The injured people mainly have chest wounds and head wounds from bullets and shrapnel.

    "Having more than 300 wounded in three weeks shows the level of violence in Mogadishu.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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