One of Somalia’s most popular comedians, known for his parodies of Islamist militants, has been shot dead in the capital, Mogadishu.
Abdi Jeylani Marshale was killed on Tuesday shortly after leaving a local radio station where he worked as a drama producer and performer. It is not yet known who carried out the killing, but last year Marshale was threatened by the extremist group al-Shabaab, prompting him to go into hiding in neighboring Somaliland for several days.
Witnesses told the BBC that Marshale was shot several times in the head and chest by two men armed with pistols. The gunmen have not been caught. Yusuf Keynan, a presenter at Kulmiye Radio, where Marshale worked, was quoted as saying: “He had not done anything wrong to anybody, as far as we are concerned, but they shot him in the head and shoulders.”
“This is a black day for the entire entertainment industry. He was a leader in Somalia comedy and everybody liked his performance,” Keynana said.
Kulmiye Radio reported that hundreds of journalists, relatives, supporters and dignitaries attended his funeral. The station owner, Osman Abdullah Guure, urged journalists to carry guns for protection: “I strongly encourage the journalists to take their guns and not consider any one protecting them; it is time to defend ourselves.”
Marshale also worked for Universal TV, a London-based Somalian satellite TV station. Another Universal employee, reporter and anchor Abdulkadir Omar Abdulle, survived a shooting on Saturday, the Committee to Protect Journalists said.
On Wednesday, Somalian security forces shot dead a would-be suicide bomber who tried to attack the venue of a national conference on a draft constitution, while a second attacker blew himself up, police said.
“The two bombers wore government uniform. Six policemen were injured,” police officer Colonel Mohamed Ali said.
The gathering overwhelmingly backed a new constitution — 621 in favor versus 13 against — paving the way for a new government to be elected this month under a UN-backed plan.
Somalian Constitutional Affairs Minister Abdirahman Hosh Jabril said: “This is an historic day — today we have witnessed the completion of a task that has been worked on for the last eight years.”
African Union troops and the UN-backed government have forced al-Shabaab out of Mogadishu, but the militant group still controls many areas of southern and central Somalia. The country has been without a functioning national government since 1991.