New York- US (PANA) â" Al--Shabaab insurgents in Somalia have banned all BBC bro adcasts from the areas they control and confiscated the corporationâ?s FM transm itters and satellite dishes, the New York-based Committee to Protect journalists (CPJ) disclosed in a news release made available to PANA.
Local journalists told CPJ that Al-Shabaab issued a statement Friday announcing the immediate ban, claiming the BBC carried the â?agenda of the crusadersâ? and â?opposed an Islamic administration.
â? Al-Shabaab insurgents took down all of the BBCâ?s broadcast equipment in five r egions of Mogadishu, Beledweyn, Baidoa and two locations in lower Shabelle, BBC r eporter Mohamed Olad said.
According to Olad, who is also the chairman of the Somali Foreign Correspondents Association, the BBC had one of the largest audiences in Somalia and the ban wi l l severely affect the publicâ?s access to information.
Local radio stations operate under strict self-censorship because of intimidatio n by Al-Shabaab, local journalists told CPJ.
Private radio stations that relay BBC programmes also stopped broadcasting the B BC immediately, the National Union of Somali Journalists reported.
At a Wednesday press conference in the capital, Mogadishu, Information Minister Dahir Mohamud said that independent journalism was no longer possible due to int i midation and death threats made by insurgents against journalists, Shabelle Medi a Network reported.
â?The insurgency movements have banned independent and foreign news coverage to curtail negative reporting,â? said CPJ Africa Programme Coordinator Tom Rhodes, adding that â?such measures are quickly diminishing the already small number of critical media outlets that remain in Somalia.
â? The BBC has been operating in Somalia for more than 50 years.
The only other foreign broadcasters with a presence in the country are Al-Jazeer a and a newly launched U.
radio station, Radio Bar-Kulan.
Since December 2006, Somalia has been embroiled in a conflict, primarily between the government and the Al-Shabaab insurgency.
Al-Shabaab controls most of central and southern Somalia and parts of Mogadishu.
Four journalists were harassed and detained by Al-Shabaab insurgents in separate incidents across the country last month, the union reported.