Somaliland journalist Ahmed Farah Ilyas killed

Ahmed Farah Ilyas Ahmed Farah Ilyas was shot outside his house

A journalist in the breakaway republic of Somaliland has been killed by gunmen as he returned home.

Ahmed Farah Ilyas was a reporter in Las Anod, the main city of the volatile Sool region, for UK-based Somali station Universal TV.

Before he was shot, he had been covering the story of a landmine explosion blamed by the authorities on al-Qaeda-aligned Islamist militants.

Ilyas is the 16th journalist to be killed in Somalia this year.

Since the overthrow of President Siad Barre in 1991, Somalia has seen clan-based warlords, Islamist militants and its neighbours all battling for control of the country.

Somaliland declared independence in the wake of Mr Barre's ousting - and has been a far more peaceful part of Somali territory, although Sool is in an area also claimed by the autonomous Somali state of Puntland and has experienced some unrest.

'Shock'
Map

The BBC's Hagar Jibril in nearby Burao says witnesses told him that Ilyas was shot by two gunmen on Tuesday evening about 10m from his house.

"It was really shocking news for us. He was killed around 10pm local time [19:00 GMT]," Universal TV's Managing Direct Ahmed Abubakar told the BBC Somali Service.

Mr Abubakar said he did not know why the reporter was murdered.

"In all Somalia nowadays journalists have been targeted in so many places… so it might be to do with anything, it might be to do with the conflict with Somaliland and some groups there, or it might be a personal issue or family issue, but we're still waiting for that investigation to happen," he said.

Earlier on Tuesday, four people were wounded by a landmine which Sool governor Mahamed Mahamud Ali said was laid by al-Shabab militants.

"We condemn the killing of Ahmed Farah Ilyas. Journalists are being targeted for their work, and they are performing their duties under the most trying times," Omar Faruk Osman, from the National Union of Somali Journalists, said in a statement.

'Horrific'

Somalia is one of the most dangerous places in the world for journalists to work.

According to the UN special representative for Somalia, a journalist working for the Shabelle media network in the capital, Mogadishu, was shot on Saturday and is still in a critical condition.

"I condemn these horrific attacks in the strongest terms. Trying to silence the media will have a devastating effect on the nation's vibrant media community. These attacks must stop and the crimes must be fully investigated by the Somali and Somaliland authorities," Augustine Mahiga said in a statement.

Al-Shabab has claimed responsibility for killing more than 10 of the 16 journalists this year. One of them was beheaded in Mogadishu.

Earlier this year, a UN report noted that al-Shabab was expanding operations further north, and last week a large consignment of arms destined for suspected Islamist militants was seized in Puntland.

Al-Shabab has been under pressure from African Union troops and Somali government army in central and southern Somalia.

It has lost some of the major towns it once controlled over the last few months but still control large areas of land, especially in rural areas.

More on This Story

Somalia: Failed State

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