- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 12, 2007


2 journalists critical of government killed

MOGADISHU — Two prominent Somali journalists were assassinated yesterday, one outside his office, the other as he returned from his fallen colleague’s funeral, authorities said.

The victims were Ali Iman Sharmarke, owner of the HornAfrik Media Co., and Mahad Ahmed Elmi, who hosts a popular radio talk show for the same company. HornAfrik’s broadcasts criticized the government and the Islamist militants who have been trying to topple the administration through a bloody insurgency.

The government accused independent radio stations of airing programs “likely to cause unrest.” On Friday, police raided Mogadishu-based Shabelle radio and detained eight journalists for several hours, said the editor of the station’s English-language service. Other stations, including HornAfrik, also were forced off the air for days at a time.

Mr. Elmi, 30, was shot as he headed to work early yesterday, according to witnesses. Mr. Sharmarke, 50, was killed by a remote-controlled land mine as he drove home from Mr. Elmi’s burial, authorities said.


Christian convert hides after Muslim threats

CAIRO — An Egyptian Muslim who converted to Christianity and then took the unprecedented step of seeking official recognition for the change said he has gone into hiding after death threats.

Mohammed Hegazy, who sparked controversy when pictures of him posing with a poster of the Virgin Mary were published in newspapers, was shunned by his family and threatened by an Islamist cleric vowing to seek his execution as an apostate.

Mr. Hegazy said he received telephone death threats before he went into hiding in an apartment with his wife, a Muslim who took the name Katarina when she converted to Christianity several years ago. She is four months pregnant.

There is no Egyptian law against converting from Islam to Christianity, but in this case, tradition takes precedent. Under a widespread interpretation of Islamic law, converting from Islam is apostasy and punishable by death.


Nuclear negotiator in Beijing for talks

TOKYO — North Korea’s chief nuclear negotiator, Kim Kye-gwan, arrived in Beijing yesterday for possible talks with his U.S. counterpart, Christopher R. Hill, ahead of next week’s meeting aimed at denuclearizing the reclusive state, the Kyodo News agency said.

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