A Somalia faction led by a Cabinet minister has detained a Somali journalist after he reported the group has been violating a 2004 peace deal and a U.N. arms embargo, an international media watchdog reported Friday. The Juba Valley Alliance detained Ahmed Mohammed Aden on Monday, accusing him of posting "false information" in an online article, the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists said, quoting the National Union of Somali Journalists.
Somalia has had no effective government since opposition leaders ousted a dictatorship in 1991 and then turned on each other, carving the nation of 8.2 million into a patchwork of fiefdoms controlled by warlords.
Somalia has been struggling to re-establish a government and rule of law. But a transitional government formed last year is weakened by divisions that prevent it from operating in the capital, Mogadishu, and other parts of the country.
Barre "Hirale" Aden Shire, leader of the faction holding the journalist in the Indian Ocean port town of Kismayo, is also the reconstruction minister in the transitional government. Attempts to reach Shire for comment on the Committee to Protect Journalists' report were not immediately successful.
Committee to Protect Journalists Executive Director Ann Cooper called on the transitional government and Kismayo authorities to ensure Aden's release, and also called on Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf "to publicly condemn continuing attacks on the Somali press and to help bring them to an end." Lawless Somalia is particularly hazardous for reporters.
A British Broadcasting Corp. journalist was shot and killed by Somali militiamen in the country's capital in February, reports the AP. I.L.