MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) – The Islamic militia that seized control of Somalia’s capital established a committee Saturday to investigate the fatal shooting of a Swedish journalist that came weeks after the militia claimed to have pacified Mogadishu.
The 10-member panel consists of former police and military officers, said Abdullahim Isa Adul, secretary to the chairman of the Islamic Courts Union.
“We have asked them to help us investigate this case,” said Abdullahim Isa Adul, secretary to the chairman of the Islamic Courts Union. He said several sources have come forward with information about the killing, but he offered no further details.
Somalia has been wracked by anarchy since warlords toppled dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991 and then turned on each another. The Islamic militia has brought a semblance of peace after seizing the capital and most of southern Somalia after months of bloody fighting. But many Somalis have wondered whether peace can last in the hands of radicals who want to establish an Islamic state. And in Mogadishu, which is still teeming with weapons after years of anarchy, anger at foreigners still runs high.
On Friday, award-winning Swedish journalist Martin Adler was fatally shot in the back as he filmed a demonstration in Mogadishu. An unidentified gunman came up from behind and fired a single shot, sending the crowd fleeing in panic, witnesses said.
Adler, 47, was covering a crowd hailing a deal between the largely powerless, U.N.-backed transitional government and the Islamic leaders. Demonstrators also were protesting alleged Ethiopian interference in Somali affairs.
Somali anti-foreigner sentiment has been stoked by reports that widely despised warlords defeated by the Islamic leaders this month had been financed by the CIA. U.S. officials have accused the Islamists of harboring al-Qaeda.
After years without a government or police force, Mogadishu is among the most dangerous cities in the world.
Assault rifles and pistols are commonplace and disputes are settled either through revenge attacks or clan-based Islamic courts.
International journalists have been stoned or heckled while reporting on recent demonstrations. But the capital had been relatively calm since the Islamists drove the warlords out earlier this month.
Islamic leaders held a crisis meeting shortly after the shooting. Their chairman, Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, pledged to track down those who “are behind this criminal act.”
The assailant disappeared into the crowd after shooting Adler, according to an Associated Press reporter who witnessed the shooting.
The demonstrators also had been attempting to burn an Ethiopian flag. Ethiopian troops have massed on the border with Somalia as the Islamic militants seized territory. The troop movement by Somalia’s traditional rival has angered supporters of the Islamic group.
Adler, who is survived by his wife and two children, won international awards including the 2001 Amnesty International Media Award, a Silver Prize for investigative journalism at the 2001 New York Film Festival and the 2004 Rory Peck Award for Hard News. He had worked in more than two dozen war zones, including Iraq, Afghanistan, Bosnia, Rwanda, Congo and Sierra Leone.
Adler had many freelance assignments for Sweden’s largest newspaper, Aftonbladet, over the last 10 years, and had reported extensively from Somalia, Aftonbladet spokesman Olof Brundin said. “He was an extremely experienced war correspondent,” Brundin said. “He wanted to over places and people that no one else cared about. And that often took him to strange and very dangerous places.”
Adler was not on assignment for Aftonbladet in Mogadishu, but Brundin said the newspaper had been hoping he would send it a report from Somalia in the coming weeks. The International Committee of the Red Cross was expected to fly his body out of Mogadishu on Saturday. In February 2005, an unidentified gunman in Mogadishu shot dead British Broadcasting Corp. Africa producer Kate Peyton.