Somali comedian who poked fun at Islamists shot dead

October 30, 2012 2:24 pm


File photo shows Islamist fighters loyal to Somalia’s Al Shabaab performing military drills in Mogadishu/AFP
MOGADISHU, Oct 30 – Gunmen assassinated a well-known comedian and musician who poked fun at Al-Qaeda linked Shabaab insurgents in the Somali capital, police and colleagues said on Tuesday, the latest in a string of attacks against media and cultural figures.

Warsame Shire Awale, a famous composer who had worked with Somalia’s national army band before joining Radio Kulmiye as a drama producer and comedian, was attacked by two gunmen late on Monday.

“Gunmen killed him… we are investigating the matter and the killers will be brought to justice,” police chief Ahmed Hassan Malin told reporters.

“Two men armed with pistols shot and wounded him near his house in Waberi district, he died shortly after in hospital,” said Abdi Mohamed Haji, a colleague at Radio Kulmiye.

The killing, the latest in a wave of attacks on media workers in Somalia, follows the murder of fellow comic Abdi Jeylani Malaq Marshale in August, who also worked at Kulmiye.

Popular especially with the youth, 61-year old Awale’s programmes mocked the Shabaab leadership, pointing out their misuse of the form of extreme Islamic law they imposed in the war-torn Horn of Africa country.

The veteran broadcaster would create drama shows in which he would examine the hardship of staying in Shabaab-controlled areas, as well as the challenges in trying to escape from their orders.

“Given the nature of the Shabaab, he knew he was at risk of dying,” said his nephew Mohamed Abdiweli.

But senior Shabaab official Ali Mohamed Hussein said they were not responsible, blaming instead government forces whom he said “kill people for their telephones and their petty belongings.”

“This gentleman was an old man and we had no wish to kill him,” Hussein said. “Blaming the Shabaab for this is a politically motivated issue.”

The UN human rights agency voiced deep concern at the attacks and urged the government to bring the killers to justice, saying the latest deaths brought to 18 the number of media workers killed in Somalia this year.

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