MOGADISHU – Veteran radio journalist Barkhat Awale was killed by crossfire today in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, according to local journalists and news reports. He is the second journalist killed on duty in Somalia this year, according to CPJ research.
Awale, 60, director of the community radio station Hurma Radio, was on the roof of the station assisting a technician in fixing the station’s transmitter when a stray bullet hit him in the stomach, local journalists told CPJ. His colleagues rushed him to Madina Hospital, where he was pronounced dead upon arrival.
Awale’s death came during some of the most intense recent fighting between Al-Shabaab insurgents and African Union troops, local journalists told CPJ. Earlier this morning, at least 33 people were killed when two suicide bombers detonated explosives at the Muna Hotel, located near the presidential palace, according to a statement by Information Minister Abdirahman Omar.
“We send our deepest condolences to the family and colleagues of Barkhat Awale,” said CPJ’s East Africa Consultant Tom Rhodes. “Both sides of the conflict have shown no regard for the lives of journalists and other civilians. We call on African Union troops and Al-Shabaab to safeguard the lives of journalists.”
Awale had worked in the media for the last 30 years and was director of Hurma Radio for the past four, the National Union of Somali Journalists reported. Hurma Radio primarily covered social issues, local journalists told CPJ. The station, based in the government-controlled KM5 area, has been off the air recently due to technical problems that the staff had been trying to fix.
On Monday, the Al-Shabaab rebels took over privately owned Radio IQK in northern Mogadishu, local journalists told CPJ. Al-Shabaab issued a statement claiming Radio IQK was a public station.
In May, another veteran journalist, Sheikh Nur Mohamed Abkey, with the state-run Radio Mogadishu, was shot dead by three gunmen near his home in southern Mogadishu