By Harun Maruf
A Somali journalist who was abducted Saturday at gunpoint says he escaped from his kidnappers after the vehicle being used broke down. Hanad Ali Guled was found early Sunday on a farm near Afgoye town, 30 kilometers west of Mogadishu. He said the vehicle used by his abductors broke down as they tried to move him from one location to another.
Initial reports indicated he was dumped there by the abductors, but Guled told VOA Somali that he escaped. His left hand and leg were chained tighter, he said during his captivity. He said five gunmen were involved in his abduction.
“At around 1 a.m., the vehicle we were traveling in broke down, three of the men got out and walked away as if they were trying to get help, two stayed with me,” he said.
He said the two guards then tried to fix the car, which gave him an opportunity to escape.
“I threw myself into a canal nearby and hid there for 30 minutes,” he said.
He related how the men went looking for him on the wrong side of the canal, and he then fled in the opposite direction.
He was found with his left hand and leg chained together. He contacted his wife who alerted his media station, Goobjoog. The station contacted police in Afgoye, who located him and escorted him to Mogadishu.
Police got a statement from Guled before he was taken to a hospital in the city for medical evaluation.
Guled works as a news producer at Goobjoog radio and television. He says he was abducted at about 8 a.m. on Saturday by five gunmen wearing Somali government soldiers’ uniforms after he left his home for work. He said two masked gunmen held pistols to his head and took him to a car with three other gunmen already inside.
He said he was initially taken to a location where he was interrogated by the gunmen.
“They asked me what I do, places I visit, if I am a member of NISA [National Intelligence and Security Agency] how long I was in the media?” he said.
During the interrogation, the abductors stomped on him several times, he said.
“They stomped on me, they walk away briefly, speak on the phone, then come back to continue interrogation,” he said.
Guled recently co-founded Media for Aid, a program aimed at encouraging journalists to play a role in helping drought victims. He said the abductors asked him about the Media for Aid campaign.
“I believe they were against what I have been doing recently, the Media for Aid campaign,” he said.
Asked if he suspected al-Shabab, he said he could not tell and could not recognize their faces.
Guled’s family said he received threatening phone calls the night before the abduction from anonymous callers. One of the co-founders of the Media for Aid campaign also said he received a phone call asking him about the appeal.
Mohamed Ibrahim Moallimu, secretary-general of National Union of Somali Journalists, says the identities of the abductors are still unknown, and no one has claimed responsibility. Moallimu said the search for the perpetrators will continue.
“The abduction has happened, but the question is who abducted him? That is the job of the security branches,” he said. “We don’t want the case to end there, we want security forces to go after it and find whoever is responsible.”
Somalia is one of the most dangerous places to be based as a journalist. Dozens of journalists have been killed, harassed or detained in the country over the past 10 years.
Source: VOA News