RIOT police in breakaway Somaliland have arrested three journalists who were covering violent protests that left at least three people dead in the region, writes Dennis Itumbi for journalism.co.za.
Local journalists have confirmed that police arrested three of their colleagues, identified as Abdiqani Husein, Abdifatah and Abdiqani Abdulahi, as they were covering the demonstrations.
"I can tell you that they were arrested and their equipment taken," Omar, a journalist who requested to be identified only by his first name, said in a phone interview from Somaliland.
Interior minister of the semi-autonomous territory, Abdulahi Osmail Ali, could not confirm the charges the journalists face, instead choosing to explain that a number of protestors were armed and used grenades and guns against government forces, wounding four policemen.
The tensions come amid the impeachment of President Dahir Riyale Kahin, who has been in power since 2002, and growing calls for him to step down.
As a result a crackdown on the media has intensified in the last three months with journalists being detained, equipment being destroyed and media houses being raided.
The embattled president is seeking re-election in the upcoming polls in the face of a strong challenge from Faisal Ali Warabe, of the Justice and Welfare Party, and Ahmed Mohamed Mohamoud, of the Development and Solidarity Party.
The conditions on the ground remain tense in Somaliland with a delay in the presidential election scheduled for September 27, the third such postponement, adding to the intensity of tensions.
A former British protectorate, Somaliland split from Somalia less than a year after Somali dictator Mohamed Siad Barre was toppled in 1991 and is seeking international recognition as an independent state.