Somali Canadian journalist killed in Mogadishu

A prominent Somali Canadian journalist was one of two men killed in deliberate attacks in Mogadishu on Saturday, authorities said.

A prominent Somali-Canadian journalist was one of two menkilled in deliberate attacks in Mogadishu on Saturday, authorities said.

Ali Iman Sharmarke, aCanadian citizen, and Mahad Ahmed Elmi, a Somali, had operated Horn Afrik Media Company, astation that has criticized both the government and Islamic militants in Somalia.

Reports say Elmi, 30,was shot to death on his way to work.Sharmarke, who was 50, was killed by a remote-controlled landmine as he drove from Elmi's burial.

Sharmarke had lived in Ottawa and returned to his native Somalia in December 1999 to help build an independent press.

"Sharmarke was returning from the funeral of one of his employees, Mahad Ahmed Elmi, who had been shot dead at close range by two gunmen while on his way to work earlier in the day," the CBC's David McGuffin reported from Nairobi.

Two other reporters — one working for Reuters, the other for Voice of America — were in the car with Sharmarke and suffered light injuries, Mohamed Ibrahim, a reporter in Mogadishu told the Associated Press.

An editor at Sharmarke's radio stationtold reporters that Sharmarkedied from shrapnel wounds to the head.

Witnesses saidthe bomb appeared to target Sharmarke's vehicle, which was in the middle of a convoy.

Sharmarke — whose wife and children still live in Ottawa — gave up a federal government job to return to his native Mogadishu, McGuffin said.

His aimhad beento help rebuild Somalia by developing a free press.

"The station was popular for its phone-in shows, but unpopular with the new transitional government," McGuffin said.

Horn Afrikhas been shut down several times in the past few months over its coverage of violence that has devastated Mogadishu since the transitional government was put into power by the Ethiopian military in January.

"Those who don't want peace for Somalia are behind these attacks," said the deputy police commissioner, Abdullahi Hassan Barise. He said the men were targeted because of their jobs at Horn Afrik.

"I don't know who was specificially responsible," Mohamed Elmi, who works for Horn Afrik and who was a friend of the two men, told CBC News.

"No specific group has claimed responsibility so far, he said.

In 2002, the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression honoured both Mahad Elmi and Sharmarkefor their work in Somalia.

The CJFE noted the dangers facing the men, and all those associated with Horn Afrik.

"Its journalists, from many clans, have faced constant intimidation and threats in a society where there is no one to protest to, and no protection of press freedom."

Hundreds of thousands of Mogadishu residents have fled fighting in the city since the start of the year.

So far this year six journalists have been killed in Somalia.