A Somali television journalist was killed in a suicide bombing in Mogadishu on Monday evening, police said.
Abdifatah Moalim Nur Qeys, 33, who was director of Somali Cable TV, was fatally injured by the explosion at a restaurant in the capital, with police confirming the attack’s perpetrators were members of militant group al-Shabaab.
“At around 21:00 a Khawarij [al-Shabaab] suicide bomber detonated explosives on people who were having tea outside the Blue Sky restaurant in Bondhere district,” police said in a statement.
They added that four other people were injured outside the restaurant.
Al-Shabaab, which is affiliated with al-Qaida, immediately claimed responsibility for the attack in a message on Telegram.
In a post on the social media platform X (formely Twitter), the Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism, Daud Aweis, wrote that he was “saddened by the tragic loss of Abdifatah Moalim Nur”, adding “may his extraordinary work in journalism be celebrated and remembered”.
Elsewhere, reactions poured in from Nur’s colleagues across Somalia and the region.
The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) wrote in a statement that they were “deeply shaken and outraged by the senseless and brutal act that took the life of Abdifatah Moallim Nur (Qeys), a distinguished journalist”.
The Union’s director, Omar Faruk Osman, decried what he said was “the tragic and merciless murder of a bright journalist, taken away from us far too soon”, while the International Press Association of East Africa (IPAEA) also condemned the killing.
A dangerous job
Osman also highlighted the continuing dangers of working as a journalist in Somalia.
“It is deeply unsettling to witness yet another instance where a journalist in our country pays the ultimate price,” he wrote. “How much longer must we endure the senseless violence that robs us of these brilliant voices?”
Journalist Mohamed Isse Hassan was killed in October last year, one of over 100 people killed in twin car bombings in Mogadishu.
A month earlier Ahmed Mohamed Shukur, also a television journalist, was killed by a landmine.
With more than 50 media workers killed since 2010, the country is one of the most dangerous places for journalists in Africa.
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) ranks Somalia as 141 out of 180 countries on its Press Freedom Index.
And it is not only al-Shabaab that present a threat to press freedom but also the Somali authorities, with three journalists currently in detention, according to RSF.
Abdalle Ahmed Mumin, a freelance journalist, was imprisoned earlier in 2023 for “disobeying government orders”, a decision strongly condemned by the non-profit, the Committee to Protect Journalists.
Nur also faced “personal threats and pressures” from the government throughout his career, according to the Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS).
In October last year, Nur worked with SJS to challenge the Ministry of Information’s “unlawful directive” curtailing media freedom, resulting in him receiving threats from the Ministry, the Syndicate says.
The journalist remained a “staunch advocate for press freedom” whose death “serves as a stark reminder of the immense dangers faced by journalists in Somalia”.