Somalia: Al Shabaab Release Journalists, But Ban Music And women workers

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Islamist hardliners in southern Somalia have released three radio reporters Tuesday after detaining them a day ago and shutting down an independent radio station, Radio Garowe reports.

The three journalists - Muktar Mohamed Atosh, Mohamed Adawe and Mohamed Nur - were all safely released, but the independent Radio Jubba based in the southwestern town of Baidoa remained off air. Atosh, who spoke after being released, said: "Al Shabaab accused us of spreading false news about the security situation in Bay and Bakool regions."

He said that Al Shabaab guerrillas ordered Radio Jubba not to hire female workers or to play music on the air. The radio station remained silent all Tuesday and no comment emerged from the Al Shabaab side. Meanwhile, an Islamist member in Baidoa defended the independent media and called on Al Shabaab to allow the freedom of the press.

"The journalists must be allowed to work freely...this [arrest] looks like oppression," said Mohamed Ibrahim Bilal, a member of the Islamic Courts Union. He noted that Radio Jubba is "owned by businesspeople" and called on Al Shabaab "establish your own radio station."

Bilal said Al Shabaab fighters used to speak freely on local radio stations during the Ethiopian intervention and have now began to "silence journalists" since they control the Baidoa area.

Garowe Online