Friday, April 09, 2010

Somali Islamists seize radio transmitters for BBC

The Associated Press
Friday, April 9, 2010; 12:35 PM

MOGADISHU, Somalia -- Somali Islamists on Friday seized radio transmitters that let the local population hear news programs from the British Broadcasting Corporation, witnesses said.

Militia group al-Shabab accused the BBC of broadcasting anti-Islamic propaganda.

Resident Jibril Abdi said the extremist group's fighters confiscated FM radio transmitters in the capital of Mogadishu. Other witnesses reported the same in other towns.

The BBC said in a statement it was "concerned at any attempt to prevent its broadcasts reaching its audiences in Somalia and is working hard to get back on air."

Jerry Timmins, BBC Head of International Relations and Africa Region, said, "The action has resulted in all BBC output being taken off air including BBC Somali, Arabic and English language output."

"The BBC speaks to all sides in Somalia - including al-Shabab - and reports events as they unfold. It is essential for the people of Somalia that the BBC is allowed to continue to report accurately and impartially on the situation in the country without undue interference from anyone."

The BBC has been broadcasting in Somali for 50 years.

Al-Shabab insurgents control much of southern and central Somalia, including large portions of Mogadishu. They frequently threaten or assassinate journalists whose coverage they disagree with.

The group wants to topple the country's weak U.N.-backed government and replace it with an Islamic state. Somalia has not had an effective government for nearly 20 years. 

No comments: