All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing’ - Edmund Burke

February 5, 2009

S I E R R A  H E R A L D

Vol 7 No 2

The tendency sometimes to protect perpetrators for the sake of peace...doesn't help society. Impunity should not be allowed to stand. - Kofi Annan on Waki report

Said Tahlil Ahmed is no more - slain by masked gunmenSlain journalist Said

The Head of Somalia's largest media outlet, HornAfrik Said Tahlil Ahmed has been murdered in cold blood by masked attackers who targeted him as he and other colleagues made their way to a press conference.

 The meeting with the press on Wednesday 4th February was called by hard-line Islamist militia al-Shabab whose spokesman has, according to the BBC, promptly denied any responsibility for the killing.

According to the BBC, a journalist, who was with Said Ahmed when he was attacked, said they were nearly at the venue in Mogadishu's central Bakara Market when masked gunmen fired on them.

Said Ahmed fell to the ground before his attackers approached and shot him again and again.

This latest murder in the Somalia capital Mogadishu highlights once more the dangers faced by unarmed and defenceless journalists as they go about their normal duties and calls for urgent action by the international community to bring to book all those behind the murders of journalists in the country.

Somalia could be declared as a failed state, a somewhat ungovernable entity, but that gives no one the licence to pick and choose whom they so decide to eliminate in such a callous manner.

That the three masked attackers could have moved closer to the stricken journalist even as he lay on the ground after his poor body had received the first set of shots and to finish him off with more shots to the head and chest speaks volumes. That someone must have given the order for the elimination of Said Tahlil Ahmed.

Reports from the ground say onlookers were so shocked at what happened even in this violence-prone country, that for a minute or two they just there stood motionless and wild-eyed before the realisation hit them that they had just witnessed the murder of one of their own - an unarmed journalist going about his duties.

According to the news outlet Garowe Online

Said Tahlil Ahmed, who was appointed director in 2007, died at the scene inside Mogadishu's notorious Bakara Market, considered an insurgent stronghold. Mogadishu's major radio stations went off air immediately in protest, while HornAfrik broadcasted recitations of the Holy Qur'an to commemorate Mr. Tahlil's assassination.

The late HornAfrik director was renowned for preparing a special Friday program, where he discussed the week's top issues and expressed the independent radio station's position in the country's fast-changing political landscape.The body of Said is removed from the scene - Photo - Reuters

One of the journalists heading for the press conference told the US international news outlet, CNN

"First, they shot him in the back and then one of the armed men came over him and fired more shots into his head to finish him off," he said. "One of the gunmen was shouting, 'Kill the other one,' which they meant another one of us."

It is sad, really sad and ironic that Said became the director of HornAfrik in 2007 after the station's owner, Ali Iman Sharmake, was killed by a car bomb - as he returned from the funeral of a presenter at the station who was himself murdered.

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