Somali cops free detained journalists

Police in Somalia have released five journalists and allowed their radio station to resume broadcasting, members of staff said on Friday.

The Radio Voice Peace journalists were released overnight hours after they were detained for the station’s coverage of an attack on Wednesday night by Islamist insurgents in Mogadishu’s KM4 neighbourhood.

The station reported that the rebels had overpowered Somali police in the attack, thus annoying the government, staff members said.

”The journalists were released last night [Thursday] after discussions with Somali government officials. They are free now and we are starting our broadcasting normally,” said Mohamed Ali Irole, the station’s director.

”None of us was harmed, we were released by the police commissioner,” added Shafi Islow, the station’s editor, who was among those arrested on Thursday.

Government officials have not commented on the arrests, but they have in the past cracked down on radio stations that report incidents where the soldiers are defeated.

International press watchdogs have chided the weak Somali government for its heavy-handed crackdown on free media.

The war-wracked Horn of Africa nation is ranked as the world’s second deadliest country for journalists by the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists.

Mogadishu has been wracked by violence between Ethiopian-backed government forces and Islamist insurgents since late 2006. The country itself has been lawless since the 1991 ouster of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre. — Sapa-AFP

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