Sun, Jun 25, 2006 - Page 6 News List

Mogadishu leader denounces killing

LAWLESSNESS A Swedish journalist was shot while filming a protest rally on Friday, one day after a deal was signed between rival leaders calling for an end to violence

AGENCIES , MOGADISHU

Swedish freelance journalist Martin Adler, right, and another reporter sit in the lobby of their hotel in Mogadishu earlier this month. Adler was shot dead while reporting from a demonstration. He was working for the Swedish tabloid AftonBladet.

PHOTO: AFP

The chairman of Mogadishu's Islamic courts union, media rights groups and residents of the war-shattered capital yesterday condemned the slaying of a Swedish journalist and called for justice against his unknown aggressor.

Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed said that a probe was under way to find the killer of Martin Adler, a Swedish photographer and reporter who was slain at a Mogadishu rally on Friday by an unidentified assailant.

"We will follow the footsteps of the killer until we get him," Ahmed told a press conference in the capital.

"The manhunt would go on until we catch the killer," Ahmed said, appealing to residents to volunteer information that could lead to the arrest of the gunman.

Adler was filming a protest led by the Islamic courts union.

`Gun went off'

Witnesses said he was filming at the front of a crowd of thousands.

"A gun went off, he went down, that was it," Guardian correspondent Xan Rice, who was present, told Reuters.

"There was mass confusion. We were shunted to the side, and the rally was called off," Rice said.

After the lone shot, the crowd fled from the body, leaving sandals strewn on the sand.

Adler, a prize-winning freelance cameraman who covered more than two dozen war zones in his career, was of Anglo-Swedish origin and was married with two daughters.

He won the Amnesty International media award in 2001 for his work on the kidnapping and sale of women in China, and the Rory Peck award for hard news in 2004 for his coverage from Iraq. He was reportedly working for the Swedish tabloid AftonBladet in Somalia

Dangerous

Adler, who arrived in Mogadishu around 10 days ago, became the 26th journalist killed this year, according to a tally by the Paris-based Reporters without Borders, which also slammed the killing.

Since the Islamists took over, several Western journalists have gone into the city -- previously too dangerous to visit -- at the invitation of the Islamic courts union, who say their Shariah courts have brought peace and order to a country in desperate need of it.

`Setback'

The killing came less than 24 hours after the interim government and the Islamic courts controlling Mogadishu penned a mutual recognition pact that called for an end to violence that has engulfed the capital and outlying towns in recent months.

"The killing of the journalist is a setback to the credibility of the Islamic courts. Maybe that was the work of people who wanted to undermine the courts," said Abdullahi Muktar Hassanow, a Mogadishu resident.

Ali Abdikarim, a grocer in the capital, said: "Now it is the time to know whether the Islamic courts are capable of dealing with violence and crime. Let them arrest the killer."

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