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The seizure started when police entered the radio station on Saturday night while regular programming was going on and took all their broadcasting equipment.
“They took the operator, the mixer, two microphones, two laptop computers and some other equipment,” a journalists at the radio station told Somalia Report, on condition of anonymity. “The police also entered the house of the director Awke in the Raf neighborhood of Basaso and detained him,” he added.
Senior officials in the Puntland security department said that they closed the radio station due to news they reported from a speech given by the al-Shabaab military spokesman Sheikh Abdiaziz Abu Mus’ab, who talked about an attack carried out by al-Shabaab fighters on Bosaso checkpoint, during which several Puntland soldiers were killed.
A worker at the station told Somalia Report that the program which aired on the Voice of Peace every afternoon at 3:00pm (1200GMT) yesterday broadcasted interviews with Abu Mus’ab and the spokesman for the Puntland presidential office, Ahmed Umar Hirsi Libaar Joore, talking about the fighting in the outskirts of Bosaso.
The director of the station, Awke Abdulahi, is now detained in the central prison of Bosaso, and it is thought that in following days he will be presented before a court, much like the former director of Horseed station, Abdifatah Jama Mire ,who was given a long prison sentence after his station broadcasted an interview with the leader of the Galgala militia.
Puntland's Deputy Minister of Security Abdijamaal Usman Muhammad held a press conference on Sunday, and offered their reasoning for the closing of the station. “They aired false news which has no basis and can bring chaos and disrupt the harmony of Bosaso and the whole Puntland.” The minister also said that it is not acceptable for a local station to air false news which was created and spread by a “terrorist group.”
Puntland security forces have warned local radio stations not to broadcast news about fighting with the Galgala militia. The Voice of Peace media group have several stations in Somalia, including Galkayo, Bosaso and Mogadishu, and it is one of the most independent stations in Somalia.
The Puntland administration has repeatedly threatened, arrested and detained reporters working in Puntland. They have already banned operations of the independent TV stations of Universal and Somali Channel, and also sentenced a reporter of Hiraan online in Bosaaso to one year in prison, although he was eventually released.