Warsame Shire Awale, a well-known comedian, actor, songwriter and playwright who worked for privately-owned Radio Kulmiye and dared to satirize the Islamist militia Al-Shabaab, was gunned down near his Mogadishu home yesterday, bringing the number of media workers killed this year in Somalia to 18.
"This country and its capital, Mogadishu, cannot continue to be abandoned to their fate, to the killers who are decimating civil society," Reporters Without Borders said. "If the international community has any influence over the new government, it must urge President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud to ensure respect for UN Security Council Resolution 1738 on the safety of journalists.
"The toll of 18 media workers murdered so far this year is symbolic, as it is double the total for 2009, until now the deadliest year for journalists in Somalia. Warsame Shire Awale was an active and respected member of the entertainment world and his murder has again highlighted the scale of the tragedy unfolding in this country."
Shot by two men with pistols, Awale was rushed to the capital’s Daru Shifa Hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival. No organization has claimed responsibility for his murder but it bore the hallmarks of Al-Shabaab, which had been the butt of his humour. Awale had received threats for criticizing Al-Shabaab’s attacks on civilians.An Al-Shabaab official, Ali Mohamed Hussein, nonetheless denied that Al-Shabaab was in any way involved in Awale’s murder.
Agence France-Presse quoted a senior police officer, Ahmed Hassan Malin, as saying the police would investigate Awale’s murder and bring his killers to justice but his promise was not convincing given the complete impunity enjoyed by those responsible for this year’s 17 other murders of journalists, none of which has been investigated properly.
At least five of Awale’s Radio Kulmiye colleagues have been the victims of violence this year. Another comedian, Abdi Jeylani Malaq, who worked for privately-owned Universal TV, was murdered in similar circumstances on 31 July.
Photo : Warsame Shire Awale