, MOGADISHU, Sep 19 – Somali insurgents on Sunday seized control of two private radio stations in the capital Mogadishu, looting one of them and using the other for propaganda, the government said.
"Shehab militants took control of HornAfrik radio station early on Sunday and started to loot all of the equipment, including broadcasting equipment and the archives," the transitional government\’s information ministry said in a statement.
"A few hours later, the Hezb al-Islam group took control of the Global Broadcasting Corporation (GBC), another private media group. They want to use it for their propaganda," the statement said.
"They did not make any demands or say what they were doing. They just entered by force and took everything in front of our eyes," an employee of HornAfrik, which began broadcasting in 1999 in the violence-plagued city, was quoted as saying by the Somali Foreign Correspondents Association.
"It is another blow to us on the ground and all Somali media in general to see the first independent broadcaster in Somalia’s history being looted and forced to silence," said Ibrahim Nur, the association\’s deputy chairman. Insurgents have attacked or shut five radio stations this year, the government said.
"We deplore the brutal action against the independent media. Looting of private media shows how they are desperate to get the public support," said Information Minister Abdirahman Omar Osman.
"Assassinations, intimidation, and looting of equipment are part of efforts to silence the private media," he said.
Somalia is one of the world\’s most dangerous media environments, with journalists at constant risk of artillery or gun attacks, or reprisals by hard-line Islamic insurgents from the Shehab and Hezb al-Islam.