/ 21 October 2009

Somalia’s al-Shabaab shuts down two radio stations

Somalia’s hard-line al-Shabaab insurgents on Wednesday ordered the closure of two independent radio stations in the central town of Baidoa, the Islamist group said in a statement.

Radio Warsan and Jubba Radio, both based in Baidoa, a town located 250km north-west of Mogadishu, were off the air on Wednesday.

”Starting today [Wednesday], the Islamic administration of Bay and Bakol regions orders the staff members of Warsan and Juba radio stations to completely stop broadcasting until further notice,” the al-Shabaab statement said.

Hilal Sheik Shueyb, director of Radio Warsan, said his station received the statement early on Wednesday, just before resuming broadcasts.

”They brought us the statement before the scheduled broadcasting and they did not give us a reason for silencing the independent radio stations,” the journalist said by phone.

”They also gave us verbal warnings that anybody ignoring their orders will face harsh reprisals,” he added.

Radio Warsan’s director was briefly detained last month, apparently for ignoring a decision by the town’s al-Shabaab administration ordering radio stations to stop airing musical advertisements and replace them with the call to prayer.

The al-Shabaab and allied hard-line Islamists control large swathes of southern and central Somalia, where they have closed down several radio stations and imposed tough restrictions on other media outlets.

Somalia is one of the world’s most dangerous countries for journalists. Six of them have been killed since the start of the year and two foreign reporters — a Canadian and an Australian — have been held hostage for more than a year. — AFP