Statement from the Broadcasting Board of Governors and the Voice of America on the Murder of Said Tahlil Ahmed

The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) and the Voice of America (VOA) condemn the senseless murder of Said Tahlil Ahmed, Director of HornAfrik, a Somali media network. Mr. Ahmed was gunned down today in Mogadishu’s Bakara market.

“Targeting journalists such as Said Tahlil Ahmed has a disastrous impact on the institution of the press in Somalia,” said Blanquita Cullum of the Broadcasting Board of Governors which oversees the Voice of America. “Free media is one of the building blocks for stability, something greatly needed in Somalia.”

HornAfrik, a longtime VOA affiliate, operates two radio stations and a television station in Somalia. The private network has been an important partner in transmitting VOA’s news and information in both English and Somali to listeners throughout Somalia.

“This is a tragic loss for HornAfrik, VOA and the people of Somalia who suffer the most when they are without reliable and unbiased news and information,” said VOA Director Danforth Austin.

Mr. Ahmed had been director of HornAfrik since 2007 and hosted a popular talk show on the station. No one has claimed responsibility for his death.

Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries for journalists, a situation that has led many journalists to flee the country or cease their work rather than risk their lives. Mr. Ahmed’s predecessor at HornAfrik, Mohamed Elmi, was killed by a roadside bomb in Mogadishu in 2007, and the network has been attacked and shut down at various times by insurgents or government officials.

The Broadcasting Board of Governors is an independent federal agency, supervising all U.S. government-supported, non-military international broadcasting, whose mission is to promote freedom and democracy and to enhance understanding through multi-media communication of accurate, objective, and balanced news, information, and other programming about America and the world to audiences overseas. BBG broadcasting organizations include the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, the Middle East Broadcasting Networks (Alhurra TV and Radio Sawa), Radio Free Asia, and the Office of Cuba Broadcasting (Radio and TV Mart